The biggest names in construction in the Shady City the Fullerton family firmly established themselves as the premier provider of construction and demolition services. With the monumental Fullerton bridge to their names no one can argue their reputation for knowing how to build sound structures. They are also responsible for the building of other notable buildings in Coldford such as the Faulds Park Building, the WEIR HOTEL and the BECKINGRIDGE TOWER.
A large family the Fullertons are known to have their fingers in a lot of different pies around the city. Brothers Jake and Caleb head the construction contracts, whilst their sister Jenna makes her name in the adult film industry. Until recently matriarch grandma, Lynette Fullerton sat the top of the family table but unfortunately she was one of the fallen 59 in the event known as the FREE FALL MASSACRE.
They are an old money family from the wealthy town of Filton. Keen to show pride in their town they have ownership of one of the University teams. They aim of which is to build bridges between the two main institutions of higher learning in the city.
Whether it is tearing it apart or building it back up, Fullerton Construction are on hand in the Shady City.
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A cult is quite often a religion with unorthodox practices. In a world where the court of public opinion is one which holds the most esteem, being swept up in cult like waves becomes easier and easier. When asked why someone would join a cult the most likely answer is that they can find something there that they can’t find anywhere else. Affection, acceptance, understanding, or a mixture of all those things. It isn’t always some sinister group hidden out of the way of civilised society. You can see it in the chanting of songs at football matches. It can be seen in a crowd of teenagers wearing the latest trends. It can be the way we are hooked to social media.
For the moment allow me to examine the idea of cults in their most natural form. With the help of cult deprogrammer, John Reynolds, I was offered an insight into the depths of these cult groups. Before this interview I would have dismissed the cult idea as foolish people being brain washed. Reynolds helped me understand it better and it was more than that. It was more about a power struggle rather than brain wash. I am reporter, Sam Crusow, and I invite you to join me as we step inside the cults of Coldford.
As I sat in my usual booth at Bobby’s lunchbox looking across to John Reynolds the first thing that became apparent to me was the brightness in his persona. When I had been told I would be meeting with a cult deprogrammer I must admit my mind went to a stereotypical assumption. I expected a brooding character. I expected a troubled soul. When he bounded into Bobby’s Lunchbox with a cheery, “I’m super stoked for the interview, Sam,” my presumptions were completely off.
We took a seat and I began to record.
“For legal reasons I understand that most of your cases are classified,” I began. “I’m not looking to press you. I don’t want to put anyone in a difficult position but I would love to hear your insight.”
Reynolds smiled. “I’ve been doing this for a long time. I guess it’s about time I talked about it. Get a load off, you know?”
I nodded. “I am agreed that nothing will go to print without your say so so feel free to talk openly. Consider this entire thing off the record.”
“What do you want to know?” Reynolds asked.
“Why don’t you start with some of the cases that shaped who you are.”
“Funny you should ask,” he said. “The first one that comes to mind, you reported on.”
John took a sip of his water. Although he seemed calm I could see a little tension shake him just below his skin. Giving account of some of his experiences seemed to be taking a toll on him. I pushed stop on the recorder.
“We can take five, if you like,” I asked. “This is your story to tell. It’s up to you how you wish to tell it or how far you want to go.”
I was going to remind him that his story deserved to be told as a way of urging him to open up but it seemed I didn’t need to. He had already decided that for himself.
“No,” he said. “It’s fine. I’ll go on.”
I pushed recorded again.
“You may remember a gnarly story In the Express some time back. It was about a girl named Eileen in her late teens. She had found herself in trouble. She was pregnant by her step father. Her mother was a drug user who accused her of seducing him. She was only a young girl and the step father was a real shitty dude,” John explained.
It was a typical tale of abuse, if you find yourself desensitised to such things.
Eileen was forced to leave. She didn’t have enough money to buy a plane ticket. She didn’t have enough money to pay for a hotel room for the foreseeable future. She found herself on the docks of Swantin. A lot of unfortunate souls found themselves there. Their bodies were the last marketable product they had at their disposal so it stood as the best chance of survival. She had been real close to a small vessel called the ‘Lily Ann’. It was no ordinary boat. It was a floating brothel. She had been almost been at the point of climbing on board when she heard the ferry man calling,
“The 6:15 Hathfield Bay! All about the 6:15 to Hathfield Bay.”
Eileen approached the man.
“Excuse me, sir,” she interrupted. “How much for a ticket to the island?”
The Harbour Master eyed her suspiciously. She had no bag with her, the leather of her shoes was bursting and she had a look in her eyes that suggested she would be drugged and whored before the night was out.
“I have been kicked out of my home and I have nowhere to go,” she went on to explain.
He passed her a ticket.
“I’ll let you on,” he said. “You look like you need a break and I’d be honoured to be the one to give you that chance.”
Eileen looked at her ticket.
FERRY WAY LINE.
CHAMBERLAIN DOCKS, COLDFORD – HATHFIELD BAY ISLAND: ROYCE PORT.
She could see the Royal Chamberlain crest on the side.
“Why are you doing this for me?” She asked. She wasn’t much used to generosity or kindness from strangers.
“I said you look like you need a break. The Wigan commune is over there. If you go to them they will give you shelter. They’ll look after you. They don’t have much but they are welcoming.”
Eileen had taken note of the Wigan pin the man displayed proudly, now it held a lot more interest.
“Thank you,” she said.
“Wigan bless you,” was his response.
She had heard of the Church of St Wigan. She didn’t personally know any members but if they could offer her some shelter and sanctuary it was her best bet. Better off in the hands of a religious commune than a brothel, right? Perhaps.
The travel across the sea was freeing. The waves that lashed against the side of the ferry liner were like her problems being washed away. By the time she arrived on the island she was smiling again. Although the thin rain had soaked the clothes she arrived in. When she reached the entrance of the commune she was feeling a little feverish. Pulled the purple tasseled bell. She could hear the deep knelling ring. Before long she was a greeted by a woman not much older than herself.
“I have nowhere to go,” Eileen said. “Please can you help me? I’m pregnant. I’m with child.”
The girl looked at her blankly at first. Then she smiled. It brightened her freckled face. Her smile was natural and soft. Her hair was long and tangled. She had purple ribbons tied into her braid.
“Wigan embraces all,” she said in response. Her island accent bouncy and warm. “What’s yer name?”
“Eileen,” the young woman said.
The Wigan girl introduced herself. “My name is River. Come in and rest. You are safe now.”
Eileen entered the commune and the door closed behind her.
The first days in the commune were quite pleasant actually. Eileen had no regrets in accepting the Harbour Master’s passage. She had been given clothes. They were real basic but they were warm and comfortable. They even had some elderly women check on her baby. They gave her a lot of old wives tales about the tell tale signs of it being a girl that she carried but they seemed to know what they was doing and according to them the baby was healthy and its heart was beating strong. The real world seemed so far away. Wandering onto the bay at the rear of the commune where she could hear nothing but the waves was her most favourite activity. On this particular day I now detail she had looked up at the sky first. The clouds were thick and grey. The rain wasn’t far off. There was a man sat on the sand, looking out onto the sea. He had drawn his knees up to his chest and was embracing his surroundings like he was seeing them all for the first time. He turned when he heard her.
“I didn’t mean to disturb you,” she apologised.
The man smiled. He had an engaging stare. She could feel herself smiling too. There was some white in his dark hair, despite his youth, just a streak. He reached his arm out beside him.
“Ye might as well sit with me,” he said. “It would be nice to have the company.”
Eileen took a seat, delicately at his side. He kept his attention focused out onto the sea.
“So you must be the city dweller they call Eileen.”
Eileen agreed. “Yes, that’s me. I came for sanctuary and I have been given that. I will always be grateful.”
The man nodded. “That’s good to know. I’m glad.”
“Have you been here long?” She asked him.
The man chuckled. “My whole life,” he said.
Eileen was fascinated. “It must have been quite different from the city.”
“They say not much could go on on a little island but you’d be surprised. You really would,” he explained.
“My life was shit over in the city. My mum was a drunk. My step dad forced himself on me. The baby I carry is his. My mum blamed me and the Harbour Master took pity on me. Now I’m here.”
The man turned to her. “Fear not,” he said. “You’re safe here. We are like a big family. We’d love for you to be part of our family.”
“I’m not really a religious person,” Eileen was ashamed to admit. She felt ungrateful given how accepting they had been of her, no questions asked.
“Maybe now’s the time to start,” the man suggested. “Ye can find out quite a bit about yerself.”
Eileen made a vow to try. She really did want to show how appreciative she was.
“What’s your name?” She asked.
“Dominick,” the man returned.
“Your Eminence!?” Came a cry from the commune. There was a monk standing by the entrance in robes.
Dominick looked back. He nodded to the monk who went back inside.
“Your Eminence?” Eileen questioned.
Dominick stood. He reached his hand out and helped her onto her feet.
“I’ve been blessed with the leadership of our church,” he explained. “We always welcome new members.”
Eileen took a vow that very day. She vowed to learn what she could about her new family. Before the baby was born she took a bonafide vow.
Reynolds had been based in City Main at the time. He was working out of the offices of CPD. He had been brought onboard when the Office of Law Makers brought their attention to the rise in missing person’s cases in the Coldford. Reynold’s specialty was people who weren’t necessarily missing. They just didn’t want to come home.
It had taken a few months before Eileen’s mother began to show concern. The deadbeat step father had done the same thing with a neighbour so she threw his ass to the kerb and decided she wanted to reconnect with her daughter. A hand written letter had come to the mother with the stamp of the bay. In this letter it told of Eileen’s indoctrination so far. She was pleased to be where she was. She was turning her hand to all kinds of positive things. She was embracing a religion and it was bringing out the best in her. What she made abundantly clear was the fact that she had absolutely no intentions of coming home sans step father or not. That ship had sailed and it had sailed off to Hathfield Bay carrying Eileen’s mother’s only daughter with it.
Eileen’s mother, whom records had named as Lorna P, made an appointment with our investigator.
“I want my daughter back,” she had plead.
She was preaching to the converted in this scenario because Reynolds wanted the girl back too. The issue was as he looked at her she looked real spaced out. She said she had given up the drinking but she had been rad with it very recently. All the signs were there. Her bulbous nose was red with burst vessels. Her breath was putrid. She had made an effort to dress herself but the clothes had a smell of dampness about them. If this girl was to come back, what exactly would she be coming back to? For better? For worse? It wasn’t Reynolds’ decision to make but he had to make sure she understood.
“I will do what I can to bring her back but you gotta level with me. Are you going to be there for her.”
Lorna scowled. She looked as though she was about to give the usual, ‘are you telling me what to do with my own kid?’ speech but she retracted her statement before it was aired. She knew she had treated her daughter like shit. She should have stood by her daughter. She would be heavily pregnant by now if she hadn’t lost the child. The letter never mentioned either way.
“I want to do better. I want to put the past behind us,” was her claim. “I got a job. I’m cleaning at the Lunch Box.”
Reynolds leaned back in his chair.
“It could get real rad,” he warned. “You need to be ready for that. If she does come back you need to be there for her. The process could take a long time.”
Lorna P nodded. “I’m ready for that,” she assured.
Rule number 88 of a Cult Deprogrammer: First contact with the lost soul could make or break a case. That first contact had to be made.
The meeting had been set for four pm. The location was Bobby’s Lunch Box. With Reynolds’ consultation Lorna P had composed a letter of apology to Eileen. She wished her well. She was not to ask her to come home. She was not to make any demands of her. All the letter was to do was to let her know that the mother was open to meeting should the daughter accept invitation. No mention was to be made of the baby.
In response to this letter Eileen accepted the invitation. She too said nothing of the baby.
Lorna P was keeping an eye out for her daughter. The young woman who had come in her place was not her daughter, at least in everything but the physical sense. She looked nothing like the way she had when she left. She had let her hair grow long. She wore a long, grey dress made from thick fabric. It spilled over her ankles. She had a purple ribbon tied around her neck and a Wigan pin on her breast.
“Who are you?” She asked Reynolds at first.
“I’m pleased to meet you, Eileen,” he said. “I’m John Reynolds. I was asked along by your mum. I was hoping we could have a chat.”
Eileen eyed him suspiciously but she took a seat at the diner booth.
“I don’t go by Eileen anymore,” she said. “I shed my city dweller name. They call me Heather now.”
“Heather?” Asked the mother. “Why Heather?”
Reynolds had encouraged her to ask questions as long as they weren’t asked in a challenging tone.
“It’s my favourite plant. You would know that if you knew anything about me,” the girl responded.
“We’re just here because we’re wanting to reconnect,” said Reynolds.
Heather, formally known as Eileen, scowled at him. She turned back to her mother.
“Been off the booze?” She asked her. “For how long this time?”
“For good,” she said. “I promise.”
Reynolds directed the conversation. “We’re stoked that you came,” he said. “There’s no pressure on you. Your mum told me about your letter. You seemed really thrilled over on the island.”
“I am,” said Heather ney Eileen. She was beginning to wonder who this John Reynolds was. Why would he be associated with her mum? Surely he wasn’t a boyfriend. Although he looked like he was a bit of a boozer too so maybe that was how they were connected. Was he her sponsor?
“When you left you were pregnant,” said Reynolds. “Would you like to share what happened? Are you well?”
Eileen started to soften a little. No, not Eileen, her name was Heather now.
“I had a little girl. I named her Ivy.”
“Pretty name,” said Reynolds. “Your mum is glad to be a grandmother.”
“She couldn’t be a mother. What chance does she have of being a grandmother? Did she tell you who fucking knocked me up?”
“Wigan opens his arms to the sinners. You cannot be saved. Your baby cannot be saved. Your ma most definitely cannot be saved,” Dominick had said to her.
“I want to try, Eileen,” said Lorna P.
“My name is not Eileen! It’s Heather.” The girl shrieked. “I am a child of Wigan and he accepts me for all of my sins. You cast me out and he found me.”
Lorna P made to say something but Reynolds stopped her.
“So you took the oath,” he said with a casual calmness that eased the tension. “Who was your sponsor?”
Eileen was quite taken aback by Reynolds’ knowledge of it. Wait. No. Her name was Heather. She was Heather and she was a daughter of Wigan, not some drunk who let her step dad impregnate her.
“You’re a Wigan?” She asked. He had no tell tale signs. He had no pin. His mannerisms were far too mellow for someone who had taken the oath.
“I’m not,” Reynolds replied. “I am familiar with them though. Have you been to McIvor’s Ice Cream parlour over on the bay yet?”
“I have,” she admitted. “I go there quite often.”
“Do you have a favourite flavour?” He asked.
“Strawberry,” she replied.
“She always loved strawberry,” said Lorna P with some measure of pride.
“Some days it was all you gave me to eat,” responded the daughter.
“Family is more than blood. We are bound here stronger than any mother and child, any father and son, any brother and sister. We are the family of Wigan and we’re all here for each other,” said His Eminence.
It was the family that Heather needed. When she took the oath she felt complete. It was fate that the Harbour Master gave her that ticket. It was fate that she fell in love with His Eminence.
“The weather over there can be a little temperamental,” Reynolds said matter of factly.
Heather smiled. “These clothes keep me dry. These clothes keep me warm.”
The commune keeps you safe. The commune keeps you fed.
“I’m going to call you Eileen,” said Reynolds. “It’s not to upset you. If you have shed that name then that is your decision but your mum wants some closure before you return to the commune and it’s the name she recognises. It could be her chance to shed it too if it is what you really want.”
Lorna looked to Reynolds with some surprise. They hadn’t discussed the possibility of her never returning. That wasn’t part of the deal. She kept her mouth shut though. Reynolds seemed to have a handle on the situation.
“I have nothing left to say,” she said. “You can call me what you like. I know what my name is.”
LET THEM BE CONSUMED BY FIRE!
Coming back the city was not going to be easy. She had seen way too much. Her life had changed.
“If could just sit and maybe hear what your mum wants to say?” Reynolds urged.
Heather, no Eileen, was held in her place.
The smell of the burning flesh was stomach churning. At least it was at first.
Dominick had been screaming, “you cannot be saved!”
He was crazed but in that moment but as she watched him she could only think of how passionate he was and how much he loved his Wigan family. He was leading them into a future with furious fire. She had been so swept up she helped with the torches. The city dwellers screamed in pain but their cries for mercy were drowned out as the congregates began to sing.
‘Eileen. I’m going to call you Eileen. That is your name. You are not Heather. Heather was a bayside lunatic who watched four city dwellers burn. Heather gave birth to a little girl named Ivy. Heather danced with the strangely named River, Autumn and April whilst Ivy was blessed into the Wigan faith. Eileen was still on the docks contemplating becoming a prostitute.
You cannot be saved Eileen.
“Yes you can,” John Reynolds reminded her.
I pondered the question first before I voiced it.
“Did she come home?”
“It was one of those deals where you gotta count your blessings,” Reynolds said. “She was coming home. She had gotten as far as a little fishing boat she planned on rowing herself all the way over from the bay. She had Ivy with her.”
“Then what happened?” I asked.
“Did she return to the commune?” I questioned.
“I don’t think so. She had made the resolve to leave. Rule number 36 of a cult deprogrammer: when the victim attempts to leave, the cult will use any force necessary to keep them.”
The truth of the matter was the little fishing boat had been found, beached just a little while along the coast. The blanket she had wrapped Ivy in was discarded, wet and sandy. Ivy was carried by River back to the commune. The seasons changed and the little girl grew beyond infancy. She didn’t know her mother. She didn’t know Heather. She most definitely would never have recognised Eileen. The Wigan life was what she came to know. Praise Wigan!
Discussing this case gave me a lot of food for thought. We can all find ourselves swept up in an ideology. It’s like an unstoppable force which in the hands of those who wield it well can be destructive. It takes people like John Reynolds to combat that kind of thinking. As he would say, ‘you can be saved. You can succeed. You can come back.’
How far must someone fall though before they are merely a sandy, soggy blanket on a discarded boat? Or a victim of a complete stranger’s anger?
John Reynolds will keep fighting on though until everything is groovy again.
The moment Nathan learned about Nan Harvester’s arrest he made his way straight to Harvester Farm. Julia had a strained relationship with her mother. She had always been closer to her father but she would need someone with her. She would need someone to help her through. Harvester Farm was quiet and none of the farm hands were out on the fields, not even Glenn or Curtis. He was glad of that. The milking sheds the frat boys had made home were quiet too. He had seen Buddy in the news with his father back on Owen Estate. Hopefully he was out of Julia’s life for good.
If Glenn and Curtis were out on deliveries it was likely Julia had stayed behind to overlook things. There was always one of them left in charge.
He drove straight to the farmhouse. He hadn’t been back since that business with Susie. He was keen to check the fallout from it. Buddy may have been grinning for the papers but hopefully Glenn had put the fear of God into him. He would never dare step on the farm again. Susie could have died.
He rang the bell. It was a deep chime that echoed around the house. Through the frosted glass he could see a someone approach. It wasn’t Julia though. It was a man. The door opened. A wide grin greeted. The man was wearing Kappa So attire. The man was George.
“Hello Nathan,” he said. “Come to visit Jules? She’s not in at the moment.”
“Come in. She’ll be home soon.”
George stepped aside. Speechless, Nathan entered the hallway. George closed the door behind him. That was when he heard laughter in the dining room
“Buddy!” George called. “Nathan’s home.”
“Well, I’ll be a son a bitch!”
Nathan tried to run. He struggled with the door but George had wrapped his arm around his neck. Nathan threw his arm back and caught George’s face. He tried to struggle but the bros overpowered him.
Bound to the fence Nathan screamed. George’s nose wrinkled as the screech irritated his ears. Buddy shook his own head.
“I ain’t even started yet, brah.”
Nathan pleaded. “Julia would not approve. She would have none of this. Just let me go. I won’t come back.”
Chad handed Buddy a cannister of gasoline used for the farm equipment. He splashed it on Nathan.
“You coked up my little mascot, didn’t ya?” Buddy asked.
“Yes,” Nathan admitted. “It was me.”
Buddy growled, “You could have killed her. You’re a sicko.” He splashed more gasoline on him. “You almost got me my ass kicked and you had powda’ here all along?” Buddy started to become quite upset. “You’re a real piece of work, brah! I’ve seen some real sick shit in my time but you are something else. You see this guy?” Here he indicated George. “This guy wants to eat your face off but he still ain’t as sick as you.”
“I’m sorry,” Nathan begged. “Please don’t do this.”
“Maaaaah!” Gary the goat cried from his pen.
“This is none of your God damned business Gary,” Buddy warned the goat.
“See?” Buddy said to Nathan. “I’ve been learning about these animals and that goat says you’re a dickhead.”
“I told him, Gary,” Buddy replied. Buddy calmed himself. “Nathan,” he said, “you messed with the wrong bro, brah. I got a ton of shit in my tank right now. For pissing me off you’re gonna sizzle right here on this fence.”
Nathan cried. A wet stain spread across his crotch.
“God damnit!” Buddy exclaimed. “He’s gone and pissed himself. Is piss flammable because I really wanted his balls to burn.”
“No, it’s not,” George explained like quite the expert. “I pissed on my aunt’s cat once and she wouldn’t go on fire.”
Cooper folded his arms and raised his eyebrows. Chad seemed to be picturing it. Buddy’s lips pursed at the image of a cat running away as felines do, soaked in urine. Buddy must have found this amusing because he started to laugh. The image of George chasing after it still trying to piss on it made him laugh even harder.
“You see, Nathan? You see the kind of maniacs you’re dealing with here? I know he’s a bit touched but my bro here told you to stay away. You should have listened.”
“Not now, Gary.”
Buddy’s phone started to jingle. He had no choice but answer.
“Yeah?” he asked. “Kinda in the middle of something here, brah.”
“It’s the crime scene, mucker,” came the voice on the other end. “Agents are investigating it.”
Buddy had been such a bad boy lately he found himself having to ask.
“Which crime scene?”
“The shooting. The little girl and her deadbeat dad. It ain’t CPD who are looking. It’s the agents. This is a whole new breed of shit to deal with but we’re doing what we can to keep it clean.”
Buddy groaned. “Dick down my throat!”
He rang off.
Impatient and eager to hear Nathan’s screams George threw the lighter that had belonged to his father and flicked it onto Nathan.
“I didn’t say so yet,” Buddy complained. “I had a whole speech prepared and everything.”
George lowered his head. “Sorry, Buddy.”
Woooosh! The flames erupted, causing the bros to leap back. Buddy had been so enthused he hadn’t been paying much attention to how much petrol he was throwing.
Gary the goat was distressed. Nathan’s screams as he burned shattered the generally calm ambience of Harvester Farm. There was another cry but it wasn’t from the goat. It was the roar of the bull. Gordon wasn’t liking that fuss the bros were causing on his fields. The flames tore along the fence of Gary’s enclosure.
“Shit!” Buddy exclaimed. “Get water before the whole place goes. Smells like barbeque.”
“Are we going to eat him?” asked George. Buddy frowned. He turned slowly to Brother Beckingridge. “You got some real problems, brah.”
Nathan’s screams softened. All pain and power dissolved from them when he gave himself to his end.
Crack. The fencing broke. The panels holding Nathan were charred and weakened.
They managed to douse the flames and pull Nathan’s body onto the field but the fencing was ruined.
“Maaaah!” Gary ran at Chad, catching him in the crotch.
“Catch that goat!” Buddy yelled.
George leapt at Gary almost catching him by his hind leg. Gary turned, bit him and escaped, running towards the east acre.
“God damnit! We gotta fix that fence. Chad? Coops? Find wood.”
Before the sniggers could start, he said, “Not now, brah. George? Catch that damn goat. We’ve got an hour before Julia gets back. We gotta clear this mess.”
“We’ll put him in the incinerator,” Chad offered.
“Are you trying to get funny, brah? We already cooked him.”
“It’s how Julia gets rid of the bodies – dead cows and shit.”
Buddy gave a dreamy sigh. “That girl just makes me wanna…”
Before chasing after Gary, George asked, “Can I keep a bit of him for my collection?”
Buddy tousled his hair “Of course you can, brah. Go get the goat first.”
Gordon snorted over his fence.
‘I don’t like the way that bull keeps looking at me,’ he thought.
As his bros rushed to bring the farm back into order he looked down at the body of Nathan. There was still a little life left in him. His mouth opened and closed, chomping his last, like a fish out of water. Buddy could have shot him and ended it for him then but he was in no mood for mercy.
Buddy had returned to Owen Estate. That morning he had received a call.
“Just been down to the shooting site in the Shanties to get it cleared up.”
Buddy sat forward. His head was pounding and his mouth felt like it had been stuffed with cotton wool.
“It’s already been cleared. The agents must have been there. Are you sure you left a milk bottle?”
Buddy thought hard. “I did,” he said. “I had been watching for Kev for so fucking long I got thirsty, brah. I was still a little wasted.”
CPD had always been looking for the shot from the left. The fake nest gave them everything they thought they needed. The trouble was now the agents were tailing Buddy. Big bro Billy couldn’t protect him from that.
Buddy leaned forward.
“This is a real shit show,” Buddy said to Cooper and Chad.
‘Take the little girl out first. Kev gonna learn a God damn lesson,’ Buddy could still hear his instructions.
Buddy had been so high. He could barely remember pulling the trigger.
Lydia arrived waving an envelope excitedly.
“It’s in,” she said.
Lydia and Kim had sampled the bottle that had been collected from the shooting site. Blonde hair from Buddy Owen had been extracted from him.
“This is it,” Kim said. “It’s sketchy at best pet, but it will at least let us bring him in for a closer look.”
Lydia passed the letter to Kim. She watched her expression as she read.
“This isn’t it,” she growled. “It says it’s not a match. I was so sure of it. My instincts were crying out!”
“Maybe the hair wasn’t Buddy’s,” Lydia suggested.
The hair sample they got had come from my coat, attached from the time I confronted him in main.
DNA could have put him at the scene of the crime at least. As Kim said though, it was sketchy at best. A good lawyer like Ronnie defending his nephew would have found it easy to convince the judge to throw it out. It was a start though. No match it said.
“We can’t bring him in with nothing to show for it. Doyle won’t go for that.”
Lydia suggested, “Then I’m going to speak to him.”
“Then tread carefully,” Kim warned.
Word had it that he was on Harvester Farm. If she was going to be able to corner him it would have to be done whilst he was there.
The alarms were screaming. Tawny grimaced with the noise as Cooper rushed around trying to switch them off. There were only seconds before CPD were alerted.
“Hurry, Coops!” Buddy was calling. “The last thing we need is Billy down here.”
415 – 29 – 4 – 11 – 12
Cooper desperately punched the buttons. He managed to deactivate.
“I want to speak to your Pa,” said Tawny as though she were telling off a neighbourhood child for running in the yard. She glared as though they were in a lot of trouble.
Buddy was in a lot of trouble. A man hunt was now on for the Baroness, funded by Elizabeth Beckingridge.
“You don’t know who I am lady,” said Buddy petulantly.
Tawny pursed her lips. “Owen,” she said. “Obviously.”
Buddy groaned. The Owens did tend to have a strong familial resemblance but that wasn’t what had caught Tawny’s attention.
“It’s on yer back, honey. Your jackets…” She pointed to Coops. “Cooper. I’m assuming Marshall Cooper’s son.” She pointed to Chad. “Perry. Do your family own the zoo? That’s a nice zoo.”
“Shut up, bitch,” Buddy warned. He was still trying to figure out what the Hell he was going to do.
“Let me talk to yer dad.”
“No way in Hell. Just shut your mouth. I’m a dangerous guy,” he said.
Chad was nodding in fervent agreement. He pointed to Buddy.
“You don’t wanna be messing with my bro, brah!” he warned.
“Thanks, Chad,” said Buddy.
“Got your back, brah.”
Tawny shook her head. It seemed the plan of the frat boys had been so quick to action they hadn’t fully thought out their process. They had just gone along with it. This is no surprise when we’re dealing with three individuals who had spent a lifetime avoiding consequences.
“Hide her away. I need time to think. I need powder,” Buddy decided.
Coops looked a little fidgety. He was anxious. He very much needed some powder too.
“Drugs aren’t the answer,” said Tawny.
Buddy frowned. “Will you shut up or I’m gonna gag ya.” He glared at Tawny and then started to laugh. To Cooper he said. “We should totally put an apple in her mouth!”
Tawny pouted. Cooper’s phone began to ring.
“It’s my dad, brah,” he said.
“Chad, put her away somewhere. I can’t think straight. Coops, try and find out where Marsh keeps the rest of his stash.”
Chad gripped Tawny’s arm and led her to the secure storage cupboard.
“So, Chad is it?” Tawny asked. “You know I had a close friend called Arthur. He knew a Chad. Or was it Brad?”
Chad became alarmed. Arthur was a crossdressing performer who used to stop by the Knock Knock from time to time. The nature of Chad’s relationship with him I’ll leave open for interpretation, dear readers, but it did cause Chad to tighten the grip on Tawny’s arm and push her into the storage with a lot of intent.
The door was closed. Tawny took a deep breath. She dropped to a seat on the floor.
Lydia stopped in Bournton to have coffee with her sister, Cynthia, en route to Harvester Farm. Agent Lydia Lowe had wanted to wait until close to sun down when the farm hands had left and she would stand a better chance of finding Buddy. Cynthia had been telling her all about their father’s new hobby of watercolours. She showed her sister his first attempts as photos on her phone. Some time with Cynthia had been a breath of fresh air. It gave her a moment to compose herself before venturing on her task to corner Buddy.
Refreshed, she felt ready as she passed the sign to Harvester Farm. She slowed her bike as much as she could so as not to disturb the animals too much. There was one farm hand lingering on the field. He had parked a Harvester van by the paddock of the stud herd.
Curtis had been too busy in his own mind mumbling to himself. He hadn’t heard Lydia approach.
“Whoah!” he gasped when he turned and saw her. There was still a little distance between them. “Stop there,” he ordered.
Lydia stopped. The last thing she needed was to upset the farm hands.
“I’m Agent Lowe,” Lydia explained. “I just want to ask a few questions.”
Curtis raised his eyebrows in an instant mistrust.
“We don’t like cops here,” he warned.
He banged his fists against the side of the van. Lydia watched him as he crossed to the rear which was parked towards her.
Lydia watched the sudden nervousness in him.
“What’s your name?” she asked.
Curtis started to become irate. He banged his fist on the rear of the van.
“We’re working hard here and cops think they can wander onto the farm and ask questions? Let me tell you exactly why that’s not going to happen.”
He crossed to the left side of the van. He clenched his fist again.
BANG. BANG. BANG!
He snatched a cord and pulled the van grate open.
“Go get her boy!” he yelled as he skipped further around the side of the van.
From the van emerged a huge black bull named Gordon. In a rage he charged, catching only Lydia in his sight. The agent ran as fast as she could.
Gordon caught the shine of Lydia’s bike in his eyes. The gleam frustrated him. With his great horns, the bike was thrown and its rear wheel torn away.
Curtis was now arguing with another farm hand. Lydia managed to swing back down from the ledge she had escaped to as Gordon charged towards the east acre where the dairy herd were kept.
“Sorry,” Glenn said when he approached them. “We get a lot of our hands from The Boss. We don’t usually get cops here. It makes the hands nervous. “
“I just wanted to ask about Buddy Owen,” Glenn said.
Curtis, who was still excitable, said, “Why didn’t you say that?”
“I never got the chance to,” she said.
Curtis shrugged. His nerves were eased.
“The way you came at me, I thought you were here to pick me up.”
Lydia frowned. “Should I be picking you up?”
Glenn slapped his arm. “You let Gordon out? Go and get him before he shags one of the dairies.”
Curtis took rope from the back of the van and dashed off to fetch the bull and lead him back to his own paddock. Glenn led Lydia a little further up. They both leaned against the fence, freshly erected.
“Sorry about your bike,” Glenn apologised.
“I just want to ask some questions about Buddy Owen,” she stated.
“He’s not here,” Glenn admitted. “You missed him. He’s gone back to his fancy estate. I’d watch yourself around him.”
Lydia smiled. “I’ll keep an eye out.”
“You’re a Bournton lass?” Glenn beamed when he caught a hint of her northern tones.
“I am,” she admitted.
Glenn seemed pleased by this. He looked up and watched Curtis trying to rope Gordon. Gordon shook the rope from his horns and charged at Curtis. The charge was without malice but it caused Curtis to leap the fence.
“Sorry about him too,” Glenn said. “He’s just a dumb animal.”
“No hard feelings,” Lydia replied. “I like cows.”
Glenn frowned. He had been referring to Curtis.
“Give me a hand, will you?” Curtis could be heard yelling to anyone who would helping.
Gordon was feeling mischievous and charging anyone who came near him. Curtis had been forced to leap the fence again.
“You let him out. You can put him back in,” Glenn returned.
“Fuck you, Gordon,” Curtis growled, raising his finger at the bull.
Glenn shook his head. “I’d better help him. I’ll give you a run back home. I’ll tell you what I know about Buddy.”
“Not a fan of him then?” Lydia asked.
“This farm has seen more than its share of unwanted ludgers,” he said.
With Glenn on scene Curtis leapt the fence and the two of them circled a disgruntled Gordon.
She felt a nibble on her thigh that caused her to step aside.
“Maaaah!” the pygmy goat named Gary pressed his head to her gently through the fence. She patted his head. Maybe before she left she could get a photo of him to send to Cynthia.
Complete Season 1 of the Knock Knock series is free to read here on Vivika Widow. com or click below download for Kindle
Care to discover the true whereabouts of the Knock Knock Baroness? Tawny was last seen as a resident of the Shady City’s premier rehab clinic. Check out Vivika Widoow’s hit thriller Harbour House. Free on Kindle Unlimited.
When an artist meets the shy, unassuming farm girl Julia Harvester, he sees her true form and it is inspiring.
It takes a little bit of extra pizazz to work the KNOCK KNOCK club and to be the manager you got to really have your wits about you. Here’s what our manager, DENNIS brings to the table:
There are a lot of regular faces returning to the SHANTIES for the best night in town but as the manger you really need to keep a keen eye out for strangers. The club is invitation only (by orders of the BOSS LADY). Given the nature of the joint there can be a lot of creeps hanging around. Your job as manager is to weed out the miscreants and send them packing. Except if one of those strange faces happens to be a reporter for the COLDFORD DAILY, the biggest publication in the city. Then he goes right on in.
The KNOCK KNOCK girls are skilled at flirting with the customers and making them feel special. A horny man will part with cash quicker than his trousers if he thinks he’s getting something out of it. He’s not. Your job as manager is to keep those drinks flowing so the customers are sent home with a smile on their face one way or another.
No one loves the BOSS LADY more than the BOSS LADY herself so when she takes to the stage it is always on the HEADLINING spot. As manager you have to make sure the crowds are wild and having a great time. It helps to throw in a little whoop and cheer yourself just to get the ball rolling on slow nights.
Choosing the girls sounds like a dream job for any hot blooded man but there’s more to our KNOCK KNOCK lovelies than meets the eye. These kittens have got to have claws. There is no use bringing in a new flirty waitress only to have her pack it in a week later. That’s bad for business and its bad for morale. Get those girls prepared, pretty and ready to lash out because in a place like the KNOCK KNOCK club those kittens got to have claws. The SHANTIES are no place for damsels in distress.
Alright so this one is specific for Dennis. We’re pretty sure anyone would just love to manage the club but when you have had to leave your family life behind and submit all power you once had it can feel more like a life sentence. Should have kept your hands to yourself then Dennis, you dirty fiend.
Do you have what it takes to manage a place like the KNOCK KNOCK club? Have we made it seem like an appealing place for a night out?
After it all you can just sit back, relax and consider a job well done.
A mysterious illness and a desperate phone call sends Cult Deprogrammer Reynolds’ sights on the Wigan faith of Hathfield Bay island. Time to face the past.
We all have those moments in life where we are taken on a completely different path. Some life events have the potential to change our points of view and some have the opportunity to wipe us out completely.
With everything going on in the world at the moment it makes me nostalgic. Thinking back I take time to consider those life changing moments. For me it was when I was aged twelve and I was just starting my second year of high school. As per usual I had arrived late and the first session was P.E. Across the road from my high school were playing fields where most of the outdoor classes were held. The few other stragglers and I got dressed into our kits and headed across. Between the school and the playing fields is a very busy road. Already a little shaken by the speed of the traffic and anxious that I was already late I crossed the road and was (perhaps inevitably) knocked down.
I spent months in the hospital recovering from the injuries, watching the opening game of the 1998 World Cup from my bed. Even to this day I don’t remember what happened. All I can go on was the stories told by my family as they were given the news and my school mates who were there to witness the event. The point is that when I came round some weeks later I was in a strange hospital with absolutely no clue as to how I got there. It was strange to not recognise the hospital because as a youngster I had pretty much toured all the medical facilities of the city.
As I recovered I was reminded by the physical pain I was in, the reactions of my loved ones and by the gifts and well wishes I was inundated with that I had come so close to no longer being around. To this day I would have been but a memory of some little girl who had once been part of the family. This sounds really morbid and I do have a morbid fascination with death but In times of trouble or when things get me down I think upon that moment and remind myself that there is still much life left to live. I am still here and as such I can still contribute. It stops me from wasting time and it helps me gain the confidence to reach out when I need help.
So I put it to you to think about those moments that changed you or changed the world around you. Let’s use those moments to push ourselves to do better and to remind us to make the world around us a better place in whatever ways we can.
Murder, corruption and kidnapping. Fifty nine people thrown from the top floor of the Beckingridge Tower. It’s about time this City was brought to heel.
Billy Owen is former Special Ops with campaign experience in the most difficult terrains of Northern Subala. His natural ability with firearms made his name. His treatment of prisoners almost ruined it.
He’s a Kappa So brother for life. He’s CPD by charge. If anyone is going to be bringing the justice it’s going to be this man. There are villains to catch and a name to make so step aside and let him do his thing.
Billy is from the broken branch of the Owen family tree so when there are things to mend he’s the best man to call. Just remember folks, an Owen never misses a target and Billy has set his sights on The Shady City.
The Knock Knock Boss Lady has made an enemy of the Owen family but she’s ready for that challenge.
Complete season 1 is free to read here at Vivika Widow.com or click below to download for kindle.
The Baroness’ beloved cabaret club was attacked and the Owen family are the suspects. Just another day of covering up their misdeeds.
Tawny is now Resident 0109 of the Harbour House rehab facility. Will she recover from her trauma?
If a genie (or a witch) were to grant you three wishes, what would you wish for?
It’s an age old question that we probably all asked ourselves at some point as kids. It’s fun to think about that romantic notion where everything your heart desires can be yours on the rub of a lamp. Fairy tales are fraught with the dangers of doing this though and there have been so many sensationalised examples of what can go wrong when you’re not careful in what you wish for. The movie ‘Bedazzled’ comes to mind.
Putting aside the idea that there rules attached what would be your three wishes?
For me looking for a lifetime of complete health would be first and foremost. What hope do you have of enjoying everything else when you don’t have your health? Maybe I’m just getting a little old and my priorities are different from when I was a younger woman but knowing that I was always going to be healthy would be my main aim.
Secondly, success. Not in a megalomaniac way nor in a greedy or prideful way. By success what I mean is being comfortable and affording that comfort to those around me. Life is full of its ups and downs and some days are more fruitful than others so just imagine how much easier life would be if you never had to worry about those rainy days where no matter how hard you work you just can’t break through. Just think of how much time could be spent on other things!
Finally, I would wish for an open ticket that would take me anywhere in the world on a whim. There’s so much to see and do in this life so there’s no time to be wasting. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I have a genie there granting that wish sure as Hell I’m going to do it!
So what would be your three wishes? Become a queen/king? Fill your life with unimaginable riches? Or would you seek the comfort of something more humble? Would you be so bold to wish for an unlimited number of wishes? Or would you go ahead and just set that poor genie free?
A scruffy young man is sat before me. His hair is bleached, his body thin and a little malnourished. He’s been through a lot it seems but brought to Harbour House to combat a drug addiction he’s on the list of those we aim to make better.
Interviewer: You were once described at Coldford City’s most promising young talent. You were a truly terrific artist. But you threw it all away on drugs, didn’t you, you rogue.
David shuffles a little. It seems the close scrutiny is making him nervous or perhaps withdrawal from needles is already getting to him. Still, no fix until he begins to cooperate.
David: You know what happened. You’re the reason I’m here, man.
Interviewer: How do you feel?
David: Like I got a life that ain’t worth saving.
Interviewer: A little bleak but I can see why it seems hopeless for you right now.
David: It’s the baby that got me the most. Elliot? What’d he do? What did his mums do?
Interviewer: You feel responsible for what happened?
David: Of course I do! He’s not the first kid I’ve said goodbye to either.
Interview terminated. Resident 1310 became too distraught to continue. Awaiting notice from Dr Winslow.
#amreading #thriller #harbourhouse2020 by @VivikaWidow