"The worst part of waiting is uncertainty. If you're at the doctor's and one person after another is called, you know some time your turn will come. But if you're waiting for a train that's already thirty minutes late, well you just never know." (A Wise Waiter)

Paul contemplated these words while fighting off the drift towards sleep. His student should have turned up fifteen minutes ago. But old Joe was special. Not that he was never on time. Sometimes he turned up thirty minutes early. Once he even arrived thirty minutes late, but on the previous day, making him in effect 23 hours and thirty minutes early. But that was a genuine mistake. Today, who knows what would happen. The fog was so thick, he might not get through at all. If only his wife hadn't gone shopping, they could indulge in a little hanky panky while waiting. Instead, there might just be time to put his hand to this week's 3WW entry and thus indulge those in the world somewhere beyond his ethernet, who might just be waiting for him.

I'm an English teacher and I love to create small stories to explain various items of vocabulary. So here's a little vignette to explain various meanings of the word tattoo. Have fun finding them.

Ivor begged her to work quickly. The bugle would soon be sounding out calling, the men back to barracks. A deep melancholy filled his heart at the thought of leaving her. But orders were orders and there was no escaping them. They were going back to Edinburgh. This time next week they'd be parading in front of thousands at the castle's showpiece event. He doubted he'd ever be back; surely she knew that too. It had been beautiful while it lasted but tomorrow all that would remain, was her name etched indelibly onto his skin and in his heart.

First Time Out

"You're going to have to take the plunge sometime, you know. You can't spend the rest of your life living as a recluse."

"But how..." even his stammer failed Scott know. He started his shaking. "Look at me! I'm worse now, than ever I was when I was drinking. How the hell..." The sound of his raised voice caused alarm outside as the door to the surgery opened, but Dr. Patheart reassured his assistant that everything was under control.

"Scott, I know how you feel, I really do. Dozens of others have gone through the same thing. They all felt like you and they all came through. If you want to know the truth, I wouldn't have recommended you go, had you reacted any differently. It's only because you know you're weak, that you can get through this. Anyone who felt strong enough, to face this alone, would more than likely fall flat on his face."

Scott scared at him in disbelief. He did so want to be strong. He did want to prove to the doctor that all his trouble had not been in vain. But he'd only been dry for two months. Surely it was far too soon to go to a party.

"Now let's go over the procedure, once more. The one thing you must not do is drink anything, however small an amount it is and however harmless it may seem. Now, you've already told me Richard will be at the party. He knows all about your problem and he knows you're not to drink under any circumstances. Stick close to him. He can help you if temptation strikes. You also have my phone number, should you need it. Now go to the party and have a good time. There's nothing that helps an alcoholic more than realising he can enjoy himself without alcohol."

There were very few people present when he arrived at the party. He planted himself in the farthest corner from the bar from where he had an excellent view of those arriving. One or two people were vaguely familiar. He'd met them at various managerial functions during his time in Sheffield. 30 minutes later Richard had still not arrived. He began to grow uneasy. A waiter came his way with a tray of drinks.

"I'm waiting for a friend," he stuttered. Why had he said that? Why hadn't he just said no? And where was Richard? How on earth could he survive without Richard?"

He needed a drink, and quickly. He took out his packet of Fisherman's Friends extra strong and within seconds was spluttering away.

"Some water," he croaked to the lady next to him who was tucking away into a more than oversize piece of cream cake as if she intended to massacre it. She returned a few minutes later carrying a pint size glass of water.

"They don't come any bigger than this, handsome. Where you from anyway. Haven't seen you around. Not that I've been around myself these last few months. Some problems with the old line. To be quite honest, more than just a few problems. Right as rain now though. Never have thought that I'd weighed well over 120 kilos just six weeks ago, now would you. But I did. Had to have treatment for it and everything. Doc worked wonders, he did. Fantastic. Mind you, he didn't want me to come here tonight. Thought I wasn't ready for it, all this food and like. But I told him I could manage anything after all he did for me."

Scott stared at her as she bubbled away. From the outside he saw an attractive, self-assured woman who knew what she wanted. Her eyes, however, told another message. They had "vulnerable" written all over them. He took a deep breath and interrupting her in full flow he exclaimed:

"Listen, I'm an alcoholic and I need help. I came here tonight almost against my better judgment. My best friend who was supposed to keep an eye on me, has failed to turn up. I need your help. And I suspect you need mine. How about it?"

Paragraph 612

Guilt weighed heavily on his shoulders. He wasn't even sure why. He'd done nothing wrong. Yet seeing the police troop through the train like that made him ill at ease. He began to grow fidgety, as the sound of mayhem from the neighbouring carriage reached his ears. It seemed as if the police were trying to disarm someone. Matt was caught between curiosity and the need to stay out of things. He was on his way to the coast for a well-earned holiday and the chance to engage in some racy stuff on the side. Every now and then he leant over into the aisle to try to catch a glimpse of whatever was going on. He didn't want to be seen. He checked his watch. Just 45 minutes separated him from freedom. Just as long as he could get out of the train without being seen. He knew full well, his colleagues would take the greatest pleasure in commandeering him - emergency measure paragraph 612. That would be the end of his dream holiday.

Time was now running out. If he didn't find a solution within the next ten minutes, he would be too late. And it made him so angry. He wanted to be the first one. Any time now, Janina's mother, sisters, friends could come through the door and into the lift. Then it would be too late. He had to be the first. Surely then she would notice he loved her more than all the others put together. Enough to save up every hard-earned penny he had to buy her the platform shoes she had been dreaming about for months. Enough, to race away from school the moment the bell rang, skip his dinner and surprise Janina at the flat she was looking after for her sister. When she saw him, when she saw the shoes he had bought her, surely then he'd no longer be little Peppe, the smallest boy in the class. Then she'd learn to look up to him with pride and he'd sweep her up off her feet and carry her off into the sunset.

But one small problem remained; one he'd not bargained on. He couldn't reach up to the top buttons in the lift. He tried everything. He'd even ridden up to the eight floor - as far as he could reach - hoping he could walk the four other floors. But as at the bottom the doors to the staircase were closed firmly, as it was being renovated. Jumping up and down had helped a little, but even then he only managed floor ten. What on earth was he to do. He didn't dare ring to ask anyone to help him as they'd surely never believe his little story.

He went back down to the ground floor to see if he could find anything to stand on. The bins in the cellar were far too big and heavy for him to move. Maybe someone had left a bike in the shed but that too was firmly locked. There was nothing for it. He'd just have to wait until one of the others came to visit Janina; he'd just have to remain little Peppe, the kindest boy in the class as Janina called him, but not the greatest.

Picking up the bag with the shoes he shuffled towards the entrance when the idea struck him like a flash of lightening. Of course, he'd have to undo the paper he'd taken so much care to wrap the shoes in. But if he was very very careful... Maybe?

In no time he had the parcel open and was taking the shoes out. He pulled his own off without bothering to undo the laces, and placing them in the lift underneath the buttons he put his own little feet into those gaping holes, he stretched up. With the tips of his fingers he could just about touch the bottom of button twelve, but not far enough up to push the button. He stretched a bit more, but still didn't make. Closing his eyes he counted to three and jumped. This time it worked, and the lift trundled off making its way up to the twelfth floor. The hero was coming to claim his damsel.


"Hi! It's only me. Karl is back in work today, so there's no rush."

No answer. Going into the kitchen I called out again. Not only no answer. There was no dinner on the stove. Another shout, anxiety rising in my voice. Where was Katja?

I found her propped up against the wall in the passage next to the letterbox. She didn't move. Indeed, she showed no reaction whatsoever, not even when I bent down and whispered my name into her ear. I sat down opposite her. The glare in her eyes was indecipherable, yet it told a story. It was almost as if I was sitting there watching a soundless film about which I knew nothing being played out before me.

It was only now, I saw the envelope she was clutching in her hands. I tried to pull it from her to no avail. I bent forward to see if I could make out what was written on the envelope.

"It's Bolek." The sound of her voice caught me off guard. The lustre in her eyes was fading; the film was drawing to its close.

She had only once mentioned Bolek. It was the evening I'd moved in. We'd been looking at old photos together and she'd pointed him out to me. He was Polish and they must have been very close. The threat of war had driven their families apart. Now peace had returned. So had Bolek.

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