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U3A Writing: Little Red Riding Hood

"This is nothing like the Brothers’ Grimm story of Little Red Riding Hood which I read as a child and later read in turn to my daughter and grand-daughter,'' writes Barry Mansell. . "What is the world coming to?''

I could hear my mobile phone ringing from the laundry and made my way as quickly as my poor old bones would let me.

I answered, “Hello.”

The voice that responded was the usual cheery note of my only daughter, “Hello Mum, how are you today?”

“I am a lot better today thank you dear.”

“Good. I am sending your grand-daughter over with some cake I cooked yesterday and a lovely bottle of Cherry Wine I picked up at the Wine Festival last week.”

My mind raced with thoughts of my grand-daughter’s problems of recent times, “Lovely. Is she better dear?”

The pause in her reply suggested differently to the, “Yes Mum, the rehabilitation seems to have done wonders,”

“When is she coming? The weather doesn’t look very good outside; make sure she wears something warm against the cold. A hooded jacket will help in the wind.”

“She is getting ready now and is wearing that lovely red hooded jacket you gave her for her eighteenth birthday, so she will be comfortable. Bye.”

“Bye now dear.”

My thoughts were distracted momentarily with the whistling of my good neighbour Mister Wolf as he headed off on his morning walk through the forest and gardens that backed our homes. Since his retirement as a policeman he and I have become good friends; we often talk about all sorts of things we have done in our lives. He was particularly helpful when my grand-daughter was arrested on a drug charge recently.

Sometime later there was a heavy knocking on the front door. At first I thought it was my grand-daughter and I called out, “Come in love, the door’s unlocked.”

I was surprised to see Mister Wolf’s head pop around the door, “Sorry to disturb you, but,” he pauses.

He is obviously deeply disturbed and shakily continues from the doorway, “Are you expecting your grand-daughter?”

“Yes she is bringing some cake and wine for her poor old grand-mother. Why? What ‘s wrong?”

Mister Wolf continues, “I spoke to her to a short time ago, said good day to her. She replied rather oddly I thought with “Thank you kindly, wolf.”

Mister Wolf then told of her response to his enquiry, “Where are you off to this morning with the basket of goodies?”

Her reply was, “This is cake and wine for my sick old grand-mother.”

Mister Wolf’s expression changed to one of deep concern, “She then headed in almost the opposite direction to coming here and met up with a man who seemed to be a flower seller in the park, there was an exchange of money for something other than flowers.”

I was at loss to understand the last part of his conversation.

“He is a drug dealer who sells things like Ice to his customers,” Mister Wolf almost whispered to me.

“Ice?”

“Yes Ice, a rather nasty street drug that young people use these days.”

I was shocked at the revelation and had to lie down; Mister Wolf helped me to the lounge and enquired, “Do you need some help?”

I pondered on this for a few moments, “Yes I will need to confront her and your help will be appreciated.”

He nodded,”Of course, I will do anything I can to help.”

It seemed like hours before my grand-daughter arrived, the knock on the door was followed by an extremely excited red hooded figure stumbling into the passage, “Where are you gran?''

She seemed oblivious to Mister Wolf and me, reclining in the lounge, but when I said, “Hello,” she almost toppled over in surprise.

“How are you Gran?”

“Much better thank you, especially with all the lovelies in your basket dear.”

It seemed Mister Wolf had been totally missed on her arrival, but now he was the centre of her attention and her threatening expression and stance further expanded by the words that exploded from her mouth, “What are you doing here Wolf? No you are a pig aren’t you?” Her face was now a livid red, matching her hooded jacket.

Unbelievably the anticipated pleasures of the Cherry Wine changed in a moment when it was withdrawn from the basket to attack Mister Wolf who struggled to avoid the wildly swung bottle.

Our shouted protests for her to stop her mad frenzy attracted the attention of the local woodcutter who was unloading his delivery at our neighbours; he dashed in with a broken axe handle ready to deal with our attacker and dealt her a sharp blow on the back of the head. She fell, face down onto the carpet square.

There was no choice but to call the Police. Their activity alerted the media and the local television crew arrived just as my grand-daughter departed in the custody of two Policeman.

As I watch the news on the television I can see the huddled red hooded figure of my grand-daughter being escorted out the front gate and into the back of the divisional van. The image closes up to the window of the van, two fingers in a “V” formation emerge through the gloom. The picture changes to my front door where I sorrowfully stand surrounded by Mister Wolf and the woodcutter. The commentary announces that this Red Riding Hood was arrested after attacking Mister Wolf who was saved by a woodcutter, who was fortunately nearby.

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