Busy weekend away helping Sally’s aunt and uncle move house; we stopped for dinner at the motorway services on the way back. I still hadn’t written a word for my new writers’ group on Monday evening. Sally just laughed.
‘Rob, it’s not school, just tell them you didn’t have time, though you could write a whole book about this weekend.’
‘Yes… and if it got published would your aunt and uncle recognise themselves?’
‘Not if you changed the names.’
She continued leafing through some free magazine she had picked up, then pushed it to my side of the table.
‘Look, there’s a short story at the back, maybe you will get one of your short stories in a magazine one day.’
‘I am hoping to aim a little higher than some rubbish free magazine.’
I flicked back through the pages; there was actually an article written by a dog, looking for forever homes for his pals.
Lots of licks, Barney.
‘Oh please, spare me… ‘
‘Read the story Rob, maybe it’s good.’
by Angelique Dubarry
It started with a bumble bee and ended with the saving of a whale; thousands of signatures on the petition protesting to Sea Worlds in the USA for keeping Killer Whales in captivity. Saving The World from my computer was simple and addictive, till the day the door bell rang…
Hmm, it was quite a good story, our topic was The Internet – Good or Evil? Sally was busy playing with her phone, I slipped the magazine into my man bag. Nobody in my writers’ group would lower themselves to read this trashy magazine. What did Sally say about changing the names? No one would possibly know I had borrowed the story.
On Monday evening there was a good turn out and it was a while before my turn. I read clearly and confidently, I was enjoying myself.
…till the day the door bell rang. I thought they were Mormons, two smart young men in suits.
‘Good morning Ma’am… Mrs Katherine Jones?… how are you today?’
I was taken aback they knew my name, but they were so polite and so American I stepped back and they stepped forward, into my house. On closer inspection their black badges did not mention Latter Day Saints and what they were saying did not make sense. ‘… home security…’
I thought they were selling burglar alarms; then they homed in to the extension where we keep the computer. Now their slick talking seemed to include the words ‘national security’.
I realised, when it was too late, I should not have offered them a cup of tea. When I was at the sink filling the kettle they disappeared, with the computer…
I looked up, the room was eerily silent, either they were totally absorbed, or they did not like my story. I stuttered, but managed to get to the end.
‘…but I don’t understand sergeant, what I have done wrong?’ I stammered.
‘Let’s hope your ‘38 degree’ friends can get you a good solicitor, one who will explain the extradition process.’
The tight lipped silence continued, I noticed the retired lady’s face reddening.
‘It’s okay Ruth, I’ll handle this’ said Giles, self appointed leader of the group. ‘Is this your own work Rob, or have you some explaining to do?’
How was I to know that Ruth Brown used Angelique Dubarry as her nom de plume? How was I to know that everybody recognised the story, because it had been short listed for the prestigious local arts festival competition last year.