MORE MONEY THAN SENSE
A Short Story eBook
Baxter may be stinking rich, but he has no concept of money – and he’s oh-so-gullible! When he squanders his dwindling millions buying the Tower of London from a con artist, it’s the last straw for his long-suffering accountant.
Things have to change!
Baxter rationalises the situation: if only he could get some sense, he wouldn’t make such bad decisions. And if he can buy anything, surely he must be able to buy some sense?
Determined to change, he sets off on a quest to do just that!… But will he have the sense to decide on the best course of action?
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MORE MONEY THAN SENSE
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PREVIEW – TALES FROM CORNY COVE Series
“Looks like you’ve done it again, Baxter!” the accountant sighed, shaking his head. “Not only do you go through money like it’s water, but now you’re trying to buy the Eiffel Tower as well? What am I going to do with you?”
“It wasn’t the Eiffel Tower, Sam,” Baxter explained, “It was the Tower of London… And I had it on good authority that it really did belong to that guy. He had signed and sealed papers and everything. Even said he’d throw in a genuine original tiara that was once worn by the Queen of England.”
The accountant hung his head and closed his eyes for a moment in quiet desperation. Baxter looked at him across the oak office desk with the usual expression on his face. Innocent, gormless. That butter wouldn’t melt look. Trouble was, young Baxter – who bore the same name as his billionaire father and grandfather – really was innocent and gormless. It was no act. In fact, if he didn’t have such a dopey look on his face all the time, he might even have been described as decent-looking.
Samuel J. Faltermeyer had been the family accountant since forever; and now that Baxter was without the guiding hand of his father, it fell to him to take care of all matters financial. He was certain he’d developed more grey hairs in the last four years, since the death of Baxter’s father, than in all the years he’d worked for the young man’s father and grandfather. Baxter not only didn’t have the brains for finances, but he’d grown up with so much money, he didn’t know what it was like not to have any. It had always been there, so why would he think before spending it?
Sam had always been like a trusted member of the family, and in recent years, like a surrogate father to Baxter, so he knew he could be frank with the young but less-than-frugal man.
“Look, Baxter,” he sighed again, removing his glasses and pinching the top of his nose, trying to cap his frustration. “You’re a great guy, but you’ve got more money than sense.” Baxter flinched at the expression. “You really need to start keeping things in check, son,” Sam advised.
“I hate it when people say that to me!” he retorted, his normally-smooth forehead crinkling up.
“Huh? Say what to you?” Samuel asked.
“You know… That I’ve got more money than sense,” he replied, his blood beginning to heat up. Phrases like this were the only things that ever removed his placid expression and replaced it with a frown that pinched heavily into his brow. “I can’t help it if I’m not as savvy as Dad and Grampy.”
“I know, Baxter,” Sam replied, “but that last trip to Europe nearly broke the bank! You can’t go writing cheques to every Tom, Dick or Harry just because they weave you a convincing story and then let you think you’ve haggled them down on the price a few mil! That was the last straw, Baxter. If you keep on like this, you’ll have nothing left.” Baxter hung his head low.
Sam blew out a heavy sigh, leaning back in his leather chair, wondering if he’d been a little rough on the kid. “Look, don’t worry about it for the moment.” He rubbed his salt-and-pepper beard thoughtfully. “Tell you what… Let me see if I can work a bit of magic with the finances, shuffle a few things around to free up some cash, that sort of thing.”
But secretly, Sam dreaded to think from which hat he was expected to pull this next rabbit. Was the stress he went through every few months really worth the money he was paid? His wife didn’t think so. In her view, it was high time he retired. But if Baxter kept on spending like this, maybe there’d be no money to pay him anyway, and he’d be forced into retirement. He hoped it wouldn’t come to that – for Baxter’s sake, if not his own.
“Go on home and relax by the pool for a few weeks. And for Heaven’s sake, stay out of trouble! Don’t go investing in any more cockamamie schemes and don’t go pouring your money into things y’don’t need.”
Baxter looked contrite. “You’re right, Sam. I’m sorry I barked at you.”
“Don’t worry about it. Look, I’ll catch up with you again in a few weeks and we’ll see where we’re at then – OK?”
Baxter nodded cheerfully, and both men got up to shake hands. As he left, he felt that all was well in the world again. Sam had reassured him of that. Still, something bothered Baxter as he walked out of the office building into the dazzling sunlight. It was Sam’s comment. That he had [_more money than sense. _]It wasn’t the first time he’d been told that. And, although Sam might not have meant it to sound harsh, it gnawed at him all the same.
Baxter might have money, but what about sense? Why didn’t he have any of that? Why couldn’t he be like his father and grandfather – with the brains to run their own companies, invest money intelligently, spend it just as wisely and sniff out a dodgy deal from a mile off? All Baxter seemed to do was spend money, fritter it away on things he enjoyed doing, and inadvertently magnetize con artists.
A week later, Baxter found himself following Sam’s sage advice, lounging by his pool. Despite his best efforts to work up a tan, his skinny body only ever managed one of two shades: he was either as pasty as an uncooked chicken or, after a day out in the sun, as pink as a cooked prawn. He took a cool sip of pineapple juice and picked up his glossy celebrity gossip magazine, trying to take his mind off what had been bothering him ever since he visited his accountant. But the more he tried to relax, the more the phrase uttered by Sam – and many others in his past – echoed in his mind.
More money than sense. More money than sense.
He clenched his jaw. Why had fate dealt him such a dastardly hand of cards? On the one hand, he had money enough to enjoy life’s many luxuries; on the other, he lacked the wherewithal to refill the pot from which he drank. But, surely, with all this money, he could do something about his situation? Wasn’t there someone who could advise him, show him how or where to get some sense?
Baxter tensed his fingers around the magazine, crushing the celebrities on the centrefold who had been caught skulking around Hollywood wearing no makeup, looking like deer caught in the headlights as they cowered from the relentless paparazzi.
Yes, if there was one thing he was going to do in this life, he thought, it would be to get some sense. He might not have made a success at much else in his thirty-something years, but in this he would not fail. He’d prove, once and for all, to the likes of Sam, his father and his grandfather that he had it in him to change – even if two out of three were now deceased. But where to start?
Baxter glanced down at the celebrities in his magazine. Hmm… Hollywood stars were forever going to surgeons for help – to fix the obstacles that nature had put in their way, he thought. Perhaps there was a surgical procedure he could undergo to get his brain to be bigger, better, smarter?
From his distant memory, he recalled hearing that his father had once gone to a surgeon, and he’d been able to take care of his problems. Baxter glanced back down, resolved to take action. If his father and a host of celebrities could get help, so could he!
He thrust the magazine onto the table next to him, got up and strode toward the back door of his mansion. Satisfaction will be mine! he thought, his jaw set with determination. I’ve got some phone calls to make.
The moment he was buzzed through the wrought-iron security gates, Baxter could tell that Smooth Operations was no ordinary clinic. From the freshly clipped lawns, to the heady scent of roses lining the paths, to the crunch of gravel along the lengthy driveway, the place exuded wealth and success. The clinic’s partners may only have leased the mansion and grounds, but as shrewd businessmen, they knew that to make money, you needed to look like you already had plenty of it; and they’d certainly picked the right flytrap to attract a stream of lucrative clients.
Baxter was led into the surgeon’s office by a secretary with long blond hair who had the glamour and vital statistics of a Miss World contestant. The room reminded him of his own oak-panelled study which his grandfather had lined with row upon row of books. Did anyone ever read any of these? he wondered. There were so many of them. He always marvelled at some folks’ capacity for learning. His own education had largely been a waste of money, given that knowledge seemed to run off him like honey on a hot day. Little stuck, despite his father’s hefty investments in the best tutors.
The office was situated at the back of the building and opened out onto lush grounds dotted with trees, which eventually swept out to the sea in the distance. A lone figure sat on one of the benches with bandages wrapped around its head. The clinic prided itself on being a place where those who normally craved the limelight could hide from its watchful gaze whilst recovering from plastic surgery. The irony was that, in order to become more beautiful, patients had to pass through the ugly stages of being cut and stitched, and looking as bruised as a boxer. And who’d want the public to see them looking like that? The clinic was a sanctuary where they could stay in their cocoon of bandages before finally emerging once more as a beautiful butterfly onto the world stage – or, at least, that was the hope.
“Good morning, Mr Chippendale,” greeted a sleek voice from behind. Baxter swung around from the window, reaching out to meet the hand that was offered to him by a man with handsome, chiselled features, unfeasibly pearly-white teeth and a confident smile to match.
“Err… It’s Baxter,” he replied.
“Oh, I’m sorry… Good morning, Mr Baxter,” he apologised, “I’m Carlton Carmichael. I run this clinic along with my elder brother and cousin. Please, won’t you have a seat?” he said, indicating a plush brown leather chair in front of his office desk.
“Ah, it’s Baxter… Baxter Chippendale… the third,” he replied.
Carmichael hesitated and looked down at a file in his hand which his secretary had given him. “Ah, yes. I do apologise,” he said, scanning the file’s contents. “Hmm… It seems your family has had some dealings with us in the dim and distant past. So, how can I help you, Mr Chippendale?” he asked as they made themselves comfortable.
“Mr Carmichael, I need someone to help me get some sense,” Baxter announced self-assuredly, crossing his legs and making a steeple with his hands as he held the man’s gaze.
Carmichael’s left eyebrow raised in Roger Moore fashion. “Get some[_ sense_], you say?” He was intrigued. What was he to make of such a request? Better to keep quiet, as always, and let the client do all the talking, even if it did take a while for their problems to unfold.
“Yes, Mr Carmichael. I’ve always been told that I’ve got more money than sense and I’m looking for someone who can do something – I don’t know, a surgical procedure or something – to give me some sense.”
Hmm… This was going to be interesting. It wasn’t exactly the usual request he got from a potential client. Had he just got the wrong end of the stick? Or had his partners set him up? This would just be their idea of a joke. But Baxter’s gaze continued to fix on Carlton Carmichael, with no hint of a smile. Maybe this guy was for real.
“Ah, well, ordinarily, we do plastic surgery here, Mr…”
“Yes,” Baxter interrupted enthusiastically, “but you’re a surgeon, aren’t you? I mean, your father did surgery on my father years ago, didn’t he?”
“Oh, yes, that’s right. But, Mr Chippendale, that was for a hair lip,” he emphasized. But it was clear from Baxter’s dogged expression that saying no was not an option.
Despite the counselling Carmichael was obliged to give the clinic’s many unrealistic clients, Baxter was having none of it. He regaled Carmichael with the many stories of how his lack of sense had caused him all manner of problems, and explained how he was determined to pay good money to anyone willing to take him on. By the time he’d finished, Carmichael’s eyes were bulging; and his mouth was hanging open so wide, a gang of flies could’ve used his tongue as a landing strip.
“Ah… Hmm…” he flustered, trying to collect himself. “Erm… Would you excuse me for a moment? I just need to confer with my colleagues on this. Err… Bear with me, Mr Chippendale. I’ll be right back.”
He exited his office, continually glancing back at Baxter with a curious look, and resting his fingers on various objects as he went, as though he were feeling faint and needed something to steady himself.
In the back office, Carlton Carmichael took a deep breath and loosened his collar before gathering his colleagues together for an emergency meeting. His brother William, who was like his older Doppelganger in a tailored beige suit; and their cousin, Lance St James who, with his more casual attire and healthy glow, always managed to look like he was on his way to play a round of tennis.
Despite their forty-something years, they looked like a slick trio of former models, well-pressed with enviable looks, honed tans and polished smiles. Yet, despite their vocation, none of them had ever fallen under the knife themselves. Partly because each was endowed with a natural set of good looks, and partly due to their inherent vanity. Unlike their clients, they recognised their own attractiveness when they saw their reflection in the mirror; and made the most of it by wearing the right clothing, indulging in healthy leisure pursuits, using the best vanity products and eating the right diet.
William poked his nose through the blinds to take a peek at the stranger sitting in his brother’s office. “What’s his name again?”
“Baxter Chippendale,” said Carlton. “Our father treated his father once. Remember?”
“Chippendale?” replied Carmichael the elder, pausing to think. “But that was for a hair lip, wasn’t it?”
“Yeah, tell me about it!”
“Hold on a minute,” said Lance, pushing past William for his peek at the strange visitor. “Isn’t that the guy who got hoodwinked trying to buy the Eiffel Tower?”
“It was the Tower of London. But yeah!” replied William.
“This guy really must be nuts! What does he think we are? Brain surgeons or something?” said Lance, dumbfounded.
“I don’t know. But the brains seem to have skipped a few generations. His father and grandfather were real financial whizz-kids,” added Carlton.
“Jeez! We’re sittin’ on a gold mine, boys!” Lance enthused, rubbing his silky-smooth, tanned hands together, imagining a time in the near future when he could finally have enough money to wave bye-bye to all his difficult clients.
“Are you serious? We’re not really gonna treat this nut, are we? He needs a shrink, not a plastic surgeon,” William asked, giving a perplexed look at the younger two partners. But they just stared back. It sure was tempting! After all, they knew Baxter’s family was loaded – the clinic’s clients might be rich, but he was super-rich. A payout from Baxter wouldn’t just be bread-and-butter money, it would be pina-colada-on-your-own-yacht money. But surely there were ethics to consider. Would it be right to take the guy on?
“Look,” Carlton said, seeing his older brother’s expression, “the guy doesn’t seem to wanna take no for an answer… And if we don’t help him, he’ll get someone else who will.”
It was time to make a decision. And, after batting the issue back and forth, they came to the conclusion that many of their original guiding principles had been thrown out the window long ago. Every day they dealt with rich crackpots who were determined to drain their bank accounts to pay for their services, despite their counsel. At the one end of the spectrum, there were the ‘hopeful no-hopers’ as they called them – unfortunately, no amount of surgery was ever going to transform them from an ugly duckling into a swan. At the other end, there were the ‘blind beautifuls’ who were set on destroying their already-perfect features due to low self-esteem or because they were afraid their sex appeal was withering and they’d no longer be able to reel in lucrative movie roles. They’d replace smaller nubile breasts with unyielding silicon implants that looked like large cricket balls, and inject their sultry lips with collagen, making them look puffed up like a blow-fish. And somewhere in between were those that sought tummy-tucks, chin-lifts, skin-tightening, liposuction and the like, in the hope of holding back the inevitable tide of age or their own neglect through lack of exercise or bad diet.
Most of the clinic’s money was made from people who had more money than sense – they just didn’t know it. And here they were, faced with yet another dope who just wouldn’t listen to reason. If he wanted to throw good money at them, who were they to try to talk him out of it? He’d just go elsewhere if they didn’t treat him.
Baxter felt like he’d been waiting in Carlton Carmichael’s office for an eternity after he disappeared. But when he returned, he came in with two other surgeons who he introduced as his partners.
“We’ve had a short conference, Mr Chippendale, and we’ve decided to help you,” Carlton began.
Baxter anxious face beamed into a smile. It was obvious from the surgeons’ knowledgeable, solemn expressions that they’d been giving his problem the serious consideration it deserved.
“Yes,” continued the older brother, “we’ve put our heads together and have decided to give you what we in the trade call a ‘sense implant’.”
“A sense implant?” Baxter echoed, full of hope. “Wow! That sounds great! I’ve never heard of one of those before.”
“Well, you won’t have,” Lance replied with a confident smile. “This is state-of-the-art technology we’re talking here.” Baxter looked suitably impressed.
“We’ll get onto it immediately and schedule an operation for tomorrow morning… If you’re ready to take the plunge, that is?”
Baxter’s eyes widened. “Of course, Mr Carmichael. I’m more ready than you can possibly know.”
Carmichael the elder stepped forward and held up a finger of caution. “We do have to warn you, Mr Chippendale, this is a rare and risky procedure,” he said, casting a serious look Baxter’s way. “It’s also the most expensive procedure we’ve ever done. Sense implants are hard to come by – especially at such short notice – so we’ll need to fly in an emergency supply right away.”
“Oh, money’s no object. I have every faith in you, Mr Carmichael. Tomorrow morning it is, then,” Baxter enthused.
Could this be real? Baxter thought. Could his dream finally be coming true? Would he really be able to have more sense than money after all? Everything seemed to be moving so fast. Only yesterday he’d been lazing by the pool, and today he was being looked after by some of the country’s top surgeons – or so he’d told himself.
“We’ll require you to check into the clinic immediately,” continued Lance. “The operation will take several hours and you’ll require rest and recuperation for a few weeks afterwards while the effects of the operation sink in. As with all our patients here, we like to keep these matters confidential, Mr Chippendale, so please make sure not to breathe a word to anyone – the utmost secrecy is vital to your success.”
Baxter nodded, attempting to mirror the surgeon’s serious demeanour despite his enthusiasm. Satisfaction would be his within a few short days.
“Righto! Hush hush!” Baxter nodded, tapping the side of his nose. “I’ll get my things packed right away and be back here later this afternoon.”
As Baxter made out a hefty cheque to the clinic, his accountant’s stern warnings echoed in his mind. Don’t go pouring your money into things y’don’t need.
Was he doing the right thing? Of course he was, he thought without hesitation. How could Sam be anything but pleased with him for having finally spent his money so wisely? Getting some sense was probably the most worthwhile thing he could ever do. A few weeks from now, his life would be totally different. No more would he be treated like a fool. And what was more important, he would have garnered Sam’s respect into the bargain.
The next morning, Baxter lay on the clinic’s operating table with a shaven head and the trio of surgeons peering over him from all angles, dressed in white surgical hats and smocks imprinted with the clinic’s Smooth Operations logo. Any fears that had surfaced in Baxter’s mind since their meeting the day before were now overshadowed by his excitement at the thought that he would wake up within a few hours’ time having had a whole load of sense implanted into him.
“So, where is it?” Baxter asked. The surgeons looked at each other, perplexed. “You know, the sense you’re going to implant,” he explained.
“Oh, err… It’s in a special box in the other room,” Lance replied, masking his underlying discomfort at the question with a feigned air of authority.
“Can I see it?” Baxter asked inquisitively, trying to sit up from the table.
“Ah…” William flustered, his eyes darting back and forth between the other two surgeons. They hadn’t considered that their patient might get curious and want to actually see the implant. How were they going to wriggle out of this one?
“We can’t possibly open the box until you’re under sedation, Mr Chippendale,” interjected the quick-thinking younger brother, gently but firmly pushing Baxter’s shoulders back down onto the table. “We have to keep the risk of infection to a minimum now, don’t we?”
Why, of course! Baxter thought, the explanation sinking in. How could I be so stupid? Once he got his implant, he wouldn’t be asking dumb questions like that any more.
The others looked relieved that he was satisfied, and moved to administer the anaesthetic before he could open his mouth again and put them on the spot.
“Goodbye, Mr Chippendale,” was the last thing Baxter heard as he watched the surgeons’ rows of pearly teeth beaming down at him. The teeth began swimming in circles and merged into a bleach-white haze with their smocks before eventually darkening into a black oblivion. Maybe it was the strange, woozy effects of the drug, but as he drifted off, he felt there was something slightly odd about the way they’d all said goodbye.
Whilst out cold, a strange dream floated around Baxter’s consciousness: the surgeons were sat in an office wearing smocks, laughing and joking as they clinked together fluted crystal glasses of champagne. Clearly, they were celebrating something, only he couldn’t quite tell what. He just wished he could join in the merriment, but somehow he felt left out of the loop.
A few weeks later, the sun was setting out at sea as three handsome, tanned, pearly-toothed males lay back on their sizeable new gleaming yacht sipping pina coladas. Not only had it been a fruitful month, but they would never have to look at another ugly face or listen to the whines of those vainer yet more stupid than themselves again. The clinic and the last of their ‘smooth operations’ were far behind them.
Their minds cast back to Baxter, who would by now be the only client left in the clinic. Ensuring he was well tended by a nurse after his bogus operation was the least they could do for the guy. No doubt he’d sense something wasn’t quite right. But how long would it be before he finally realised he’d been well and truly duped? they wondered. Given the stories Baxter had told Carmichael about the ludicrous situations he’d gotten himself into, they’d be long gone by then.
As they put their feet up and admired the shimmering sunset, they raised a toast to their last, unwittingly-successful operation. Baxter had come to them with a problem and they’d managed to fix it. Perhaps not in the way he would have hoped for. But it was certain that, from now on, no one would be able to say that Baxter had more money than sense.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading More Money than Sense. I suppose it’s a lot to ask, but let’s hope Baxter comes to his senses – eventually! I don’t recall what inspired me to write about him, but as with many of my stories, I’ve had this one banging around for a while without it being formally published so that readers like yourself can get their hands on it.
More titles will be appearing on my shelf over time, so if you’d like to check out more of my fiction, why not read a preview of the first novelette in my Tales from Corny Cove series – Beastly Encounters? Each book in the series is a light-hearted easy read with a feel-good ending and is another episode in the life of Henry and Margaret, who run a campsite on the coast of Cornwall in the south of England. As you’ll soon discover, life at Corny Cove can be both a blessing and a curse – with stunning landscape on the one hand, and pesky campers and neighbours on the other.
I’ve also popped a link below where you can get a copy of Living the Dream (the Tales from Corny Cove series prequel), which is free when you join my Reader’s Group. As a member, you’ll get a few [goodies *]– such as *sneak peeks at upcoming books, early discounts on new releases, and any other ‘cool [*offers’ *]I might be running (all without flooding your inbox with emails, I might add!).
If you feel so inclined, please pass on the link to this story to friends & family, or leave a quick [*review *]online. You may not realise it, but small actions like this mean a great deal to authors like myself and are important in helping to spread the word and build a following.
Thanks again for picking up this story. I have you’ll enjoy reading more titles from my shelf!
aka The ‘Pyjama Writer’]
Get the light-hearted tale, LIVING THE DREAM, when you join the author’s Reader’s Group – click the image above or visit http://bit.ly/PJW-TCCP-MMTSb
Alannah Foley… aka ‘The Pyjama Writer’
Raised in the UK, Alannah lived in her Aussie birthplace for five years in her twenties, where mozzies regularly used her for target practice. She managed to return to Old Blighty devoid of shark or snake bite, however, and currently lives in picturesque Cornwall with her cycling-obsessed partner.
To date, she has two fiction series – the Campervan Bushman Mysteries and Tales from Corny Cove – both of which are light, easy reads with a few twists, turns and tickles along the way. Her nonfiction titles span topics as diverse as capers in a campervan, the vagaries of living with an obsessive cyclist and her adventures Down Under.
Find out more about the author and where she got her Pyjama Writer nickname on her website at www.thePyjamaWriter.com/about.html.
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Alannah Foley is the author of both fiction and nonfiction works, including such titles as Campervan Capers, Cycling Widows, the Campervan Bushman Mystery Series and Tales from Corny Cove.
To see what’s new on her shelf and to find out more, visit the Books page on the author’s website at
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Earlier, I promised you a preview of the first tale in my Tales from Corny Cove series – Beastly Encounters. But first, here’s an overview of the series, to put it in context…
OVERVIEW of Tales #1-5
When Henry and Margaret move down south to ‘live their dream’ on the picturesque coast of Cornwall in England, they soon realise that running a campsite isn’t all plain sailing, and are regularly challenged by a host of bothersome campers as well as the obnoxious red-bearded farmer next door.
All in all, life at Corny Cove is both a blessing and a curse!
Tales from Corny Cove – Tale #1
After a busy Easter start to the season, Henry relaxes with his newspaper only to discover that the murderous Beast of Bodmin Jail is on the loose. But with a brutish, jealous camper running around on site, Henry isn’t sure who his biggest threat is.
Henry eased back in his chair in the campsite reception area, settling in with a hot mug of tea by his side and his Cornish Voice newspaper for a vital catch-up on local events.
Finally, I can put my feet up, he sighed.
The ten o’clock departure time had come and gone, and – as if by some miracle! – all the holidaymakers had checked out early. His wife, Margaret, was out of his hair, helping Marc in the café due to staff illness. Their two Saturday girls were busy cleaning the vacated caravans and chalets. And only a handful of arrivals were due later that day. So what else was there to do but take a break? he thought, shaking his newspaper, relieved that the Easter holiday rush was finally over now.
Although the campsite he ran with Margaret needed to bring in the punters to keep the finances afloat, he was always glad when things died down a bit. It wasn’t that he regretted taking redundancy from his job and moving from their home in the Midlands to their little corner of paradise at Corny Cove in Cornwall – not at all! It was just that Easter was the first main holiday of the year – and, as such, was like a warm-up training session for the marathon that was the main summer school holiday in Britain.
No one called the summer holidays ‘silly season’ for nothing. Roads, beaches, attractions, and campsites like theirs, would be swarming with tourists. It was as though all the flies within a 200-mile radius were suddenly trying to land on one cowpat. Luckily, between now and then, though, they could expect a less hectic period on site before the May bank holidays and half-term school break.
Henry breathed a contented sigh as he picked up his steaming mug. But as he went to take a sip of tea, a couple came through the door. He tutted to himself, reluctantly putting his mug back down before standing up behind the counter.
Mr and Mrs Botherham were from Cardiff in Wales and had stayed overnight with a relative in Devon, and were hoping for a last-minute vacancy.
“Not a problem,” smiled Henry. “Caravan number 34’s free,” he said, taking their details as they explained that their relative had suggested Corny Cove was just the place to go for a bit of “R’n‘R”, as Mr Botherham called it.
Rest and recuperation, eh? thought Henry, looking him over. The guy’s buzz-cut, khaki vest, dog-tags and menacing demeanour all spoke military. And his wife was a dead ringer for that busty blond woman in Bay Watch, Henry mused. Although, since he’d only ever caught the odd snippet of Bay Watch over Margaret’s shoulder, he couldn’t think of the actress’s name.
“Lovely place you’ve got here,” said Mrs Botherham in rich Welsh tones.
“Glad you like it,” Henry said giving her a big smile. “We live out the back, so if reception’s closed, just ring the bell. We’re always willing to be of service if we can,” Henry looked at the couple and continued beaming. But, as far as Barry Botherham was concerned, Henry’s smile had lingered just a little too long on his beautiful wife. And no doubt he’d been gawping at her cleavage while he wasn’t looking as well. All the blokes did, he thought.
Mr Botherham sized Henry up, eyes narrowed. Dressed in beige gear. Hiking trousers, sleeveless jacket, light cotton check shirt, cloth hat. All from a civilian outdoors shop. And the little round glasses only made him look more of a pipsqueak, he thought.
“Right then, here are your keys,” Henry said cheerily, trying to ignore Mr Botherham’s deepening frown. Mrs Botherham reached out eagerly with a well-manicured hand to take them and thanked Henry.
Mr Botherham couldn’t help noticing how Henry’s touch had lingered just a little too long as he passed her the keys. Or that’s how it looked in Barry’s mind. “Let’s go,” he grunted.
The couple headed for the door. Henry couldn’t help wondering about Mr Botherham’s expression. Most people looked desperate for a holiday by the time they came to Corny Cove, but they didn’t usually look that unhappy, he thought. Was it something he’d said?
As Mrs Botherham went out the door and got in the car, her husband hung back; and before Henry knew what was happening, Mr Botherham had swiftly returned and planted his face firmly up against Henry’s.
“You just leave my wife alone,” he growled in a low, menacing voice, pulling Henry up at the collar from behind the reception desk. Barry Botherham wasn’t in the business of sharing his wife with anyone – and he liked to let lesser mortals like Henry Mooney know just where they stood.
Mr Botherham’s stubbly boxer face was suffocating and sweaty as his nose pressed up against Henry’s. His glasses steamed up with each bullish snort of Mr Botherham’s hot breath. Henry’s eyes widened and his mouth dropped as he felt the tingle of fear shoot down to his toes.
What the hell was going on? he thought. But before Henry could respond to the situation, Mr Botherham was out the door.
There was no doubt in Henry’s mind that he wasn’t about to mess with the likes of Barry Botherham. As the hulk of sweating muscle squealed off in his 4×4 to find their caravan, Henry couldn’t help being reminded of his old secondary school PE teacher. An ex-Marine without a platoon to bend to his will any more, the teacher had delighted in humiliating weaker kids like Henry; and he would often run up beside the skinny fair-haired boy during cross-country runs, blowing a noisy whistle in his face, and hollering negative comments till his throat was raw.
He was glad those days were far behind him. Or were they? he wondered, trying to shrug off the disconcerting incident with Mr Botherham. What on earth was his beef, anyway? Henry had merely greeted his customers in the usual way.
Botherham by name, “Bother ‘em” by nature, Henry couldn’t help tutting to himself. There was never any accounting for folk. But in this case, he’d definitely be keeping his thoughts to himself.
At the moment, Henry noticed Margaret coming back to reception, and it was obvious from her expression that she’d seen the commotion between the two men from afar.
“Oh, I do hope you haven’t been upsetting the customers again, Henry!” Margaret tutted when she came in.
“Eh? He’s the one who upset me,” Henry whined. Was it even worth trying to defend himself? he wondered. Margaret often took the customers’ side over his. And he couldn’t help being irked by it sometimes.
Margaret put a hand on her hip and rolled her eyes at Henry. There was always a valid reason why Henry had upset someone. But surely it couldn’t always be their fault.
“Right, then…” said Margaret, moving on from the topic. It never helped to dwell on things with Henry. He just got more defensive and the conversation would go nowhere. “Marc seems to be managing all right in the café without Jenny, but we’d better remember to buy some more scones. People can’t get enough of our Cornish cream teas this year,” she added as Henry lifted his newspaper.
“Oh, and Marc reckons some food’s gone missing from the café, by the way,” Margaret continued, Henry making an idle hum at her comments as he tried to tuck into the news. “You didn’t take any supplies from the café kitchen, did you, Henry?… Henry?”
Something clicked when he heard his name, and he looked up from the paper. “What is it, Margaret? Can’t you see I’m trying to read?” he tutted. “With you in my ear, all I’m doing is reading the same line over and over again.”
Margaret ignored his complaint. “I just wanted to know whether you’d taken any supplies from the café kitchen, that’s all,” she said.
Henry lowered his paper. “Err… No, why?”
“It’s just that Marc’s sure someone’s taken a loaf of bread and a couple of packets of ham and cheese. He thinks it might’ve been yesterday afternoon when Jenny was off sick. Just seems a bit strange, that’s all,” Margaret frowned.
“No money stolen from the till, I take it?” he asked, matching her expression.
Margaret shook her head. “No, Marc kept the till locked whenever he went out the back to the kitchen.”
Henry lifted his newspaper back up and gave it a shake. “Sounds like some holidaymaker’s too tight-fisted to pay for a sandwich at the café, if you ask me,” he chuckled. “Still, best to tighten up on security – just in case. We’d better tell Marc to make sure that back kitchen door’s locked at all times.”
Right then, he thought as Margaret finally disappeared into the back office, let’s get some serious reading done here. But just as he thought the coast was clear, he glanced over the top of his newspaper and spotted one of their holidaymakers, Mr Naseby, through the large plate-glass window of the reception – and he was heading his way.
Oh, God! thought Henry as he put his paper back down. Not again!
Mr Naseby was one of those people who Henry put firmly in the ‘pain-in-the-posterior’ category. The man had only been on site two days, and already he’d torn through the list of things one could possibly nit-pick about. The children in the neighbouring caravans were too noisy. The distant church bells were too clangy. The mattress on the bed wasn’t firm enough. And he just couldn’t get to grips with gas instead of electricity. Henry heaved a sigh and put down his mug, as Mr Naseby opened the door. What’s it going to be this time? _]he wondered. [_The toilet flushes too loudly?
“Mr Mooney, I’ve come to report some rather odd goings-on,” Mr Naseby said. As usual, Henry couldn’t help feeling like the man was looking down his nose at him. It certainly was long enough, though, _]he thought. [_Olympic ski-jumpers would have a great time on that slope of a nose.
“Ooh, yes, Mr Naseby?” Henry replied, feigning a smile as he put on his mantle of diplomacy.
“Well, you haven’t got any strange wild animals running around in the woods near our chalet, have you?” he asked. “It’s just that we – my wife and I, that is – spotted some kind of dark figure in those woods last evening when we were returning from a walk on the trails. Terrified the life out of us, it did!”
“Well, it could be the infamous ‘Beast of Bodmin’,” replied Henry jokingly, growling and raising his hands into a claw as if he were pretending to be a wild cat. Mr Naseby looked blank.
“You know… The scary black panther that supposedly roams about Bodmin Moor – and anywhere else in Cornwall it fancies making an appearance, it seems,” explained Henry dramatically. Mr Naseby just stood there open-mouthed, staring vacantly at Henry as he jabbered away.
“I suppose you could say the Beast of Bodmin is a bit like the Loch Ness Monster. Unsurprisingly, no one can ever get a decent photograph of the blighter. Not even in this day and age when just about everyone has a phone camera,” Henry chuckled.
Mr Naseby wasn’t sure he liked the site owner’s upbeat delivery at all. He pierced him an angry stare, but Henry’s eyes just smiled back at him through little round glasses as if he were oblivious. Was the curious little man even taking his problem seriously?
“Look here! My wife was petrified – and we’re sure we heard something shuffling about round our chalet last evening as well,” he said, raising his voice to get the point across.
“Err… Sorry, Mr Naseby, I didn’t mean to make light,” Henry replied. “I expect the noises round your chalet were just the kids nearby playing hide and seek or something. And you do come across a fox in the woods on the odd occasion… But, don’t worry. They usually stay away. Won’t do you any harm.”
“Ruddy big fox, if that’s what it was,” Mr Naseby replied, his jaw tensing. Henry could see that Mr Naseby probably wasn’t going to be pacified unless Henry went out to the woods himself with a shotgun and blasted anything and everything that moved. The Council might have laid out proper forest trails for walkers, but the woods were still quite a wild place, full of shadows and haunting sounds which often put the wind up city folk who were more used to wires and windows than leaves and branches.
“Don’t you worry! I’ll keep an eye out, Mr Naseby. Let me know if you have any other trouble,” said Henry, adopting a more suitable, serious tone. “We don’t want your wife getting upset on her holiday now, do we?”
Mr Naseby raked a hand through his thinning ginger hair and dropped his shoulders, realising he might have been over-reacting. His wife said he’d been wound up like a coiled spring ever since they arrived on site. Ever since they booked the chalet, in fact. The word ‘holiday’ just wasn’t in his vocabulary.
Mr Naseby hadn’t had any time off in a long while. His job as a solicitor had been squeezing the life out of him for years. He imagined his office right now, files stacked up like the basalt blocks of the Giant’s Causeway, growing higher by the day. He shouldn’t be here in Cornwall taking time off work when there was so much to do. He should be back in his London office trying to catch up.
But the recent death of a colleague had shaken him to the core and made him take stock. His wife had phoned in the news that he’d died of a heart attack, and promised she’d have someone return his case files to the office.
It turned out that his colleague had nearly half of his case files piled up in his office at home and had been working on them in what should have been his time off. It was with some consternation that Mr Naseby realised he was no different. Was he on the path to the same fate? His wife seemed to think so if he didn’t make some serious changes.
Mr Naseby raked a hand through his hair again and blew out a sigh as he looked at Mr Mooney. Perhaps he just needed to cut the chap some slack. After all, he had replaced his mattress with a nice, firm one when he complained about it.
“Have you taken a look at our selection of tourist brochures here, Mr Naseby?” Henry said somewhat cheerfully as he came out from behind the reception counter. “Might be better to leave the woods alone for a while, eh? Some lovely places to see down here in Cornwall.”
Henry waved his hand over the leaflet rack against the wall, looking like someone in a TV game show presenting the prizes contestants could win if they played their cards right. He knew there was plenty to do right on the doorstep, but most of the time, tourists seemed to prefer selecting from the designated ‘tourist menu’ rather than explore the unknown that lay within easy reach. And they often didn’t think twice about travelling farther afield in order to stick with places whose names they were more familiar with. The world-famous biomes of the Eden Project, the artistic town of St Ives, the beaches at Newquay, King Arthur’s home at Tintagel. And most didn’t consider their holiday complete without a visit to the famous landmark of Land’s End.
Henry didn’t think the cliffs at Land’s End were any more spectacular than those around Corny Cove, and was always surprised that people were happy to sit in the holiday traffic for well over an hour to get there, even if it was only to take a few snaps and say they’d visited the place. Still, when he thought about it, he and Margaret had done the same when they’d first gone down there together. It was like getting a Scout badge to say you’d done the rounds of well-known tourist spots. Going back home to say you’d skulked around a backwater slate mine didn’t have the same ring to it as boasting you’d stood aloft the panoramic cliffs at Land’s End, did it?
“The Eden Project isn’t very far. The eighth wonder of the world, they’re calling it,” Henry said as he pulled a leaflet out of the rack and proffered it to Mr Naseby. “Huge great biomes at the Eden Project,” Henry went on. “Plenty of greenery. And, more importantly, definitely no beasties there!”
By now, Mr Naseby wasn’t sure how to react. On the one hand, he’d come here with a complaint – and the site owner didn’t look in the least like he was going to act on it. But on the other hand, Henry’s shower of optimism and his own growing realisation that he needed to unwind, had taken the wind out of his sails.
“Oh, give it here,” Mr Naseby muttered. And, before Henry could say another word, he had snatched up the leaflet and was out the door.
Typical! Not so much as a thank you, Henry thought, raising his eyebrows as he watched Mr Naseby make his way back to his chalet. I don’t know! Dark figures in the woods, indeed. Bloomin’ city folk!
Henry walked back behind the reception desk. Oh, well, now he’s gone, I can get back to my cup of tea and a read of the paper, he thought, rubbing his hands together.
But as he went to sit down, he heard the reception door open behind him. Ooh, now what? Henry thought, swivelling round, half-expecting Mr Naseby to be standing there with another complaint on his checklist. But instead, it was a woman in her mid-to-late thirties wearing a pink jacket. She had long wavy hair that was dyed burgundy, and judging by her injudicious application of makeup, Henry wondered if she might’ve been an enthusiastic cosmetics merchant who thought it a shrewd move to model her sales line – all in one hit.
“Hello there, I’m Mrs Candy,” the woman said in a loud and friendly sing-songy voice that Henry couldn’t mistake. She was from the Midlands – the region he and Margaret had moved down from. Only they lived in what he thought of as the more refined Staffordshire area. And Mrs Candy, with her resonant tones, was definitely from Birmingham – she was what they called a ‘Brummie’. Even after years working in and around that area, though, Henry couldn’t help cringing at the accent sometimes.
“Mr Mooney, is it?” Mrs Candy asked. Henry nodded. “My husband and I have booked a caravan for the week.” He glanced over her shoulder to see him sitting outside in a silver car which was starting to show signs of rust. Two pre-teen youngsters, a boy and a girl, were in the back and the husband looked like his temper was being tested by their bickering, which he was trying to referee from the front.
“I’m sorry we’ve come early. It’s just that my husband likes to set off early to avoid the traffic on the motorway,” she continued with a cheery smile. “I don’t suppose our caravan would be ready, would it? Only I think Andy could do with a bit of a lie-down after all that driving. He’s had nothing but a flask of coffee to keep him going since we left home.”
Henry was just marvelling at the folly of doing what would’ve been at least a four-hour journey with nothing solid in his belly, when Margaret walked in from the back room where she’d overheard the conversation.
“Good morning,” she smiled through warm green eyes. “The girls are cleaning the caravans just now, but we’ve got a spare one Mrs Candy can go into, haven’t we, Henry?”
“Oh, err… that’s right. You can have number 21.”
“Ooh!” Mrs Candy suddenly said, as if she’d just found a gold coin. “Whereabouts are you two from, then – originally, I mean? ‘Cos that’s not exactly a Cornish accent you’ve got there, is it?” she enthused, moving in and placing her gaudy pink faux-leather handbag on the counter now.
Oh, no, here we go again! thought Henry. It was the same nearly every time a Midlander came down to stay. They’d pick up on the fact that Henry and Margaret had a similar accent and start asking questions.
Some holidaymakers were almost star-struck, treating them as though they were celebrities who had ‘made it’, somehow managing to escape all the way down to idyllic Cornwall, while they could only dream of living what they saw as a luxurious life.
After a few years of owning the site now, Henry and Margaret were quite blasé about it. They played host to people from Britain as well as overseas; and, although they felt truly blessed living in the more temperate clime of picturesque Cornwall, they still had their daily concerns and problems like the rest of humanity. Still, no one ever believed them, so they’d stopped trying to convince them life wasn’t always perfect.
Trouble in paradise? No way!
“We used to live in Lichworth… In Staffordshire,” Henry replied.
Mrs Candy looked at him, perplexed, and rubbed a hand, manicured with false, painted nails to match her handbag, across her chin. Typical! She’s never heard of the place, he thought.
Quite frankly, Henry had met more Midlanders on the site than he cared to remember, and Mrs Candy’s Brummie accent only reminded him of his former life. But he had a new life now, he thought. They weren’t Midlanders any more. They were Corny Covers. Somehow, they were a part of this paradise they’d found – at least that’s how he felt.
“It’s about twenty-five miles from Birmingham,” Margaret explained. It was surprising how many Brummies didn’t have a clue what lay within a short distance of their own city. Oh, just tell people we used to live ‘near Birmingham’, Margaret would always say to Henry. It’s just easier that way.
At that moment, Mr Candy came in, wondering what was taking so long. “Ooh, Andy!” his wife continued in the same high pitch, oblivious to his obvious state of exhaustion and irritation. “Mr and Mrs Mooney here are from Birmingham!”
Henry attempted to hide another cringe while Mr Candy gave a weary look and tried to appear interested. Not only was he wrung out from the drive down, but he had two screaming kids in the car who were now moaning about being desperate for the toilet. All he wanted to do was get the keys, flop down in the caravan and crack open a beer while the kids made themselves scarce. But no, Mandy always had to talk… and talk… and talk, he thought. Where on earth did she get all that energy?
“We’re from Lichworth, actually,” Henry corrected, showing a cool face. “It’s in Staffordshire.”
In the corner of his eye, he caught Margaret giving him ‘the look’ – the look that told him he should stop being such a snob. He always hated people thinking he was from Birmingham, because deep down, he couldn’t help finding most Brummies just a tad uncouth, a fact he’d admitted to Margaret on more than one occasion over the years. He didn’t know why he found them so. Maybe he’d worked as a traffic warden for too many years and just bumped into the wrong sort of person in the wrong circumstances.
In any case, to him, such large towns and cities were overcrowded and drab, despite the numerous facelifts and cultural makeovers councils sometimes invested in. Henry wasn’t a city person at all. He much preferred the semi-rural setting they used to live in, where he could go birdwatching in the evenings or meet up with the Ramblers for a jaunt in the countryside with Margaret at the weekend.
“How on earth did you manage to escape from Birmingham down to here, then?” continued Mrs Candy, as if she hadn’t heard what Henry had said. He was hiding it well, but Margaret knew Henry was losing his patience with the woman.
“Henry was made redundant, so we decided to sell up and ‘live the dream’ as they say,” Margaret said, picking up the baton again from Henry. “The moment we came to Corny Cove, we knew it was for us – like we belonged here. It’s the most beautiful place I’ve ever been to,” she added, remembering how difficult it had initially been to make the decision to give up her nursing job.
“The place was a bit run down by the time we got to it. We’ve spent the past few years trying to bring it up to scratch,” said Henry, forgetting his annoyance and feeling proud now.
“Henry calls it our Goldilocks site,” said Margaret. Mrs Candy’s forehead creased quizzically. “…Because it’s not too big and not too small,” she explained.
“Ooh, very good,” Mrs Candy smiled. The name had obviously tickled her fancy. Mr Candy, on the other hand, stood there with his hands in his shorts pockets, his leg jigging from a combination of impatience and excess caffeine on an empty stomach. How long does it take to check into a piddling little campsite, for heaven’s sake?
“The place is off the beaten track a bit, but you can reach most tourist attractions easily enough,” Henry chimed in. Mrs Candy eagerly listened and nodded, totally fascinated, oblivious to her husband’s growing annoyance. It was her first holiday this far down the country and she wanted to learn all there was to know.
“There’s a lovely beach down below the site for the kids… Lots of steps, mind you – but saves you having to work out on a step-board, that’s for sure!” Margaret joked. “And there are plenty of walks you can do – the South West Coast Path’s right on our doorstep. A lot of people come here just for the peace and tranquillity – some real getaway time. People seem to need that more than ever nowadays, don’t they?” she added. Mrs Candy hummed in acknowledgement and looked at her husband as if to say Margaret had been describing him to a tee.
“As you probably noticed, there’s a shop right next door. And, if ever you need anything, come to reception. We live in the bungalow out the back, so just ring the bell for any emergencies if we’re closed,” said Margaret.
“Well, here’s your welcome pack, Mr and Mrs Candy, and here are your keys,” said Henry, pulling them off a hook on the board behind him. “Just follow the signs for your caravan.”
Mr Candy snapped up the keys with a grunt that roughly translated as ‘thank you’, then whisked out the door to start the car. Mrs Candy raised her eyebrows, wondering where the fire was. Weren’t they supposed to be on holiday, chilling out? He’s hardly said a word all the way down, she thought. Mind you, I did sleep most of the journey.
“Err… Hope you have a pleasant stay…?” Henry tried to say, but by the time he’d finished his sentence, Mrs Candy was already out the door in pursuit of her grouchy husband.
“There y’go, Margaret. Just like I always say…” Henry tutted, folding his arms and shaking his head. “…Uncouth!”
Margaret rolled her eyes. Mrs Candy seemed a pleasant enough woman as far as she was concerned, even if her makeup did have a touch of the theatricals about it.
“I don’t know. At this rate, I’m never going to read my paper,” Henry sighed, turning back to his chair. He sat down and picked up his mug. “Oh, that’s just great. Me tea’s gone cold as well now,” he moaned.
“Oh, give it here. I’ll make you another one,” Margaret tutted, taking the mug and disappearing out the back. The reception area adjoined the bungalow where the couple lived, so it was a short journey to the kitchen to make another brew.
A few minutes later, Margaret reappeared in reception with his tea. Henry looked up from his newspaper. “Ooh, you’re an angel!” Henry beamed as she handed him a steaming mug. He let the heat permeate his hands before taking a sip, then looked lovingly up at Margaret.
For a fleeting moment, it occurred to him that his wife was still as beautiful as the day they’d met. She might be in her early fifties now, but she had weathered well. To him, she was still the same slip of a lass, with short straight fair hair and a twinkle in her emerald-green eyes. And, no matter what the occasion, Margaret was always well turned-out. Even in her day-to-day attire of simple slacks, top and light body-warmer, she looked somehow elegant, he thought. She was what they affectionately called “a bostin’ wench” in the Midlands. And on rare occasions, he even told her how he felt…
But right now wasn’t the time.
Right now, what was important was getting back to his newspaper. And, for a change, there was something a bit more exciting to read about than council cutbacks and local residents screaming blue murder about new housing developments.
He picked up the paper and slapped the front page with the back of his hand. “Here, Margaret, take a look at this! Funny I should have mentioned the Beast of Bodmin when Mr Naseby came in earlier…” Henry said as she sat down beside him with a smaller cup of tea. “They’ve got an article here about that ‘Beast of Bodmin Jail’. Y’know, the convict who escaped the other day… The one who was on the telly.” He scanned the text. “Apparently, he’s still at large and police are combing the area for him,” Henry reported.
Margaret frowned as she lifted her reading glasses and looked over at the newspaper. “Ooh, I don’t like the look of him!” she winced. The life-sized photo was almost too real. The Beast of Bodmin Jail had the mean, grisly features and five o’clock shadow of a gunslinger in a ‘spaghetti’ Western. “It’s like his eyes are piercing right through you,” she added, dropping her glasses to hang from the chain around her neck. “But I can’t remember anything about him on TV.”
Henry creased his brow and paused to think. Then his expression relaxed and he looked her way. “Oh, that was the night you went off to bed early to read that book of yours.” She was a sucker for those soppy romance novels, he thought.
“Hmm… I think I’d remember if I’d seen him,” Margaret said.
Henry looked back at the article. “He was convicted of murder, burglary and GBH mostly… Crikey! Wouldn’t want to meet him on a dark night,” he said.
“I wouldn’t want to meet him in broad daylight!” replied Margaret.
“Ah well, looking like that, he isn’t exactly going to blend in, is he? You’d spot him a mile off. And he’ll be on foot, with nothing to eat. He won’t stand a chance if he’s out on those cold, windy moors at night. Anyway, says here the police are tightening the net – so I expect they’ll have him back behind bars in no time,” Henry said confidently.
“Right, I can’t sit here idling my time away like some people,” said Margaret, drinking the dregs from her china teacup. “I’d better see how the girls are getting on with their ‘van cleaning. Back in a bit.”
“And I’ll be right here, busily manning reception, my love,” replied Henry. Margaret raised an eyebrow before going out the door, leaving him to finally relax with his paper.
The next morning was gloriously sunny, and Henry took the opportunity to sweep up the area not far from the outdoor swimming pool. It was a beautiful spot surrounded by hedges and bushes, but he hadn’t managed to give it a decent clean since the Easter crowds had left, and was keen to brush up the leaves that were forever blowing into the area.
From a distance, Henry noticed a small movement in one of the bushes. It was a bird, but it was too far away to tell which one. Being an avid birdwatcher, he often had his lightweight binoculars strapped round his neck for just such an occasion, as he did now. And he eagerly picked them up for a closer look.
Meanwhile, Mr and Mrs Botherham had decided to go for a dip in the swimming pool. What better way to relax on holiday – especially as the poolside was quiet right now?
Barry Botherham normally stayed close to his wife, but he’d forgotten the tanning lotion and went back to their caravan to get it. He liked nothing more than smearing it all over his wife’s voluptuous body knowing that other men could only watch, stare and drool with pitiful envy. And now that he’d paid for her to have that boob job she wanted, she looked just like Pamela Anderson in Bay Watch, he thought.
Mrs Botherham was slipping off her clothing at the poolside, revealing her bikini swimsuit beneath. She folded her things neatly and slipped into the pool, wading in the shallow end, keeping her permed blond curls above the water.
As Barry Botherham returned to the pool enclosure, what could he see a short way off but the site owner, Mr Mooney, looking through his binoculars – and pointing them in the very direction of his wife? As it was, he hadn’t been happy with the way he’d looked at his wife the day before – he’d even warned him to keep away from her. But there was no getting away from it this time: the puny weed was definitely ogling his missus, getting a nice little close-up through his binoculars.
Barry’s stride grew heavy and his muscles tensed as he made a beeline for Henry. The dirty old pervert’s tongue was hanging half way out of his mouth and he was cooing with excitement. And all in plain sight!
Wrapped up in his birdwatching, Henry was oblivious to Mr Botherham who was now standing at his side, seething. Gradually, he became aware of laboured breathing beside him and realised he was not alone.
“Hello, Mr Botherham!” Henry said, turning his way. But Mr Botherham didn’t look pleased and Henry’s friendly smile began to fade. Mr Botherham didn’t look like the type who would be pleased by much anyway, Henry had decided.
“Like starin’ at birds, do you?” asked Mr Botherham, his blood pressure rising.
“Ooh, yes, a lovely pair of tits here… wouldn’t you say?” asked Henry, gesturing in the direction of the birds he’d been watching with his binoculars. “Haven’t seen any of those for ages,” he added, creasing his forehead at Mr Botherham’s rigid demeanour.
“I bet you haven’t,” Mr Botherham said gruffly, craning his neck round slowly and following Henry’s hand. But all he saw was his wife splashing about in the pool, the innocent victim of Henry’s sordid depravity.
How could the man be so blatantly pervy? He read about people like Henry in the paper every day and they disgusted him. One thing was for certain: he’d teach the dirty old bugger a lesson and knock him into the ground like a tent-peg.
Why on earth was Mr Botherham so red-faced? Henry wondered, turning his head in the direction of the birds he’d spotted and looking quizzical. It was only then that it dawned on him why Mr Botherham was so upset. Oh no… NO! he thought.
“No, I was looking at… Err… Long-tailed tits!” he said in a panic, pointing with his binoculars. He felt totally intimidated. How on earth could he hope to placate the man? Every word he uttered just seemed to rouse Mr Botherham’s anger even more.
“Cute little things,” Henry added with a nervous laugh, realising he’d run out of luck. Mr Botherham was not convinced, and grabbed Henry up by the scruff of his collar.
The last thing Henry remembered before things went black was a large muscular fist heading towards his face.
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Copyright 2015 Alannah Foley
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