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Western Oz Words: A Secret Summons

Columnist Margaret Dunn, who is involved with a University of the Third Age writing group in Perth, Australia, has a challenge to the many writers who contibute to Open Writing.

She has begun a short story. Now she wants someone to write the ending.

Completed stories should be sent to peter@openwriting.com These will be forwarded to Margaret, and she will select the one she likes best. The completed story will then appear in Open Writing.

No prizes for the winner. This is just for fun.

Morris came home around midnight. His younger sister, Tess, would have gone home much earlier. In her last year of high school, she came round some evenings to study when the sounds of family life at home with all the comings and goings got too much for her.

Morris didn’t mind as she was company for Monami, the dog who shared his flat. This animal had components of German shepherd, labrador and perhaps a touch of woolly mammoth. He was young and of manageable size when he first moved in with Morris. Tess was then in her first year of French and always referred to their pet as Mon Ami. They were great friends and she would rest her books on his hairy bulk on the floor beside her.

When Morris had left that evening, she had been taking a break from the books to paint her nails – a deep pink with a sparkly finish.

“Are you on sleuth business tonight or do you have a fantastic date lined up?”

Morris gave her an older brother stare.

“It’s something secret and dangerous – I can’t talk about it.”

She giggled and concentrated on her nails.

Morris was a partner in an enquiry agency his Uncle Victor had set up two years before. They mostly dealt with company fraud, divorce, tracking lost relatives and other routine enquiries. His work often took him out after normal hours.

This evening he had been observing the staff in a small hotel where the manager suspected staff had been handling drugs… Nothing much transpired though one of the waiters was approached by two men in the coffee lounge. The men didn’t order anything – just talked, very close and cosy. Later, the same waiter left by the front entrance, returning about 10 minutes later, looking worried.

Morris had to give his order for twice before th waiter paid attention. He would report to the manager next day.

Spinning out his meal and drinking more coffee than usual on his vigil, Morris felt weary and bloated. Now he just wanted to relax a while with some music before bed. He chose Ella Fitzgerald singing the blues, then sank onto the sofa. Monami gave his usual friendly woof, stretching on the rug to be petted.

Morris absently patted the large head, then gazed in fascination at the long horny claws stretched out in front. They were a deep rosy pink with a sparkly finish. He sat up abruptly, looked around then noticed the white envelope and scribbled note on the coffee table nearby.

Tess had written “Hi, Big Brother. This is such a nice place. Think I might move in! This letter was lying on the doormat: someone knocked and had disappeared when I opened the door…. A secret lover???

Hope you like Monami’s pink nails – he begged me to paint them.
See you soon… Love, Tess.”

The white envelope had his name on it, typed in capital letters. He took out a note and started to read.

“Hello – you might not remember me but I often think of you!
If we could get together we could talk over old times and you might like the NEWS and INFORMATION I have for you. It’s all confidential –don’t tell anyone. Tomorrow night I’ll be waiting near the late-night pharmacy at Clifton Terrace. There’s a car park with gardens at the side. Let’s say 9.30. Just stroll around – I’ll find you!”

There was something ominous in this last phrase. He tried to remember any disputes with clients over the past two years: anyone who might have a grudge. Could it be someone he had helped, now willing to give information, but only in secret? The note suggested a female mind. There were several ex-girlfriends out there – somewhere. So far he’d never felt like settling down with any one woman. He didn’t like those words ‘Don’t tell anyone.’

He sighed. Another one of life’s mysteries. He’d think about it tomorrow.

As Morris succumbed to his usual deep, sound sleep, Monami heaved himself on to the end of the bed and thoughtfully licked his long pink claws.

Next day was taken up with office administration and policy discussion with Victor. He didn’t mention the mystery letter, but it kept scratching below the surface of his mind.

Reaching home at 6 o’clock, he drifted through to the patio and small back garden. Next door was the home of Mimi, a small poodle. The dividing fence didn’t quite do the job, and the two animals gave him a warm greeting. They spent a lot of time together.

He had a decision to make.

At 8.30 he set out, Monami in the back seat, heading for the river. He parked the car under a light, leaving his dog in the back with the a window slightly open. Then, as instructed, he strolled around...



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