This week's Fiction Friday prompt: “My husband doesn’t know, but he will soon.”

"Okay come on, out with it."

Sheena glances at Olwyn. Her smile barely makes it across the table.

"Now, don't tell me there's nothing wrong. We've been meeting together every week for the last eighteen months and today you don't even seem to know who I am."

The same nervous smile. The same hesitation. She opens up her bag and fishes out a letter, placing it on the table in front of her. Olwyn frowns but waits. It seems to require a tremendous act of will for Sheena to push the letter across the table. Olwyn picks it up just as the waitress brings a second pot of tea. She reads it through twice.

"I see what you mean. Does John know about this?"

"No, but he soon will. We're having dinner with Phil and Bev on Saturday. Besides, there'll be a public announcement next week at the latest."

"Is this going to hurt John's career?"

"I don't see how it can. But it'll be awfully embarassing and..." Her voice fails her. She fishes in her bag for a handkerchief but has to make do with the gold crested serviette sitting on the table.

"I... I just don't know how he's going to take it. John's given more than his career to the institute. It's become his obsession. And he never forced Phil; not a bit. But only I know how proud he was when Phil started to follow in his footsteps. He took him to all the debates. Every meal time one argument or other would be demolished alongside whatever was on the plate. And he did all he could to help Phil in his studies. He spent ages combing the bookstores for Christmas and birthdays... that's what all his royalties went on. Anything he could do, he did. But he never used his influence to get him anywhere. Phil wouldn't have let him, not that he ever wanted to. And the day Phil received his PhD he cried buckets before and after the ceremony."

"So won't he be proud of Phil's achievement? They may be on opposing sides but..."

"Opposing sides! Do you know what this means? Phil will be the lead speaker at next month's congress debate. They're bound to pick him. They won't miss a publicity coup like this. Father and son at each other's academic throat. It'll be the death of John. After all he's done."

Sheena bursts into tears. Not even the serviette can alleviate her distress. Olwyn helps her out into the street and they hail a taxi. As they pass the Swan Hotel, Olwyn looks out the window hoping to catch a glimpse of John on his way to their rendezvous as a tear trickles down her cheek.


This week's 3WW words: depart, ignite, rotten

Paddy had one great love in his life - his love for France. And now dear reader, I can see you smile already. You know or think you know that it was really one of the infamous French demoiselles that had ignited such love. I am sorry to disillusion you but such was not the case. Indeed, it was difficult to say what it was that brought on this great love. It was certainly not those wonderful, holiday weeks spent on golden beaches with his parents, for Paddy had never even visited France. Nor was it a love for the rolling valleys resplendent with overripe vines, their nectar dripping down into the streams below. You see, like most Irishmen, Paddy preferred black heaviness to sparkling white. And as already alluded to, the young demoiselles, be ye they from Avignon or elsewhere played no roll in his love either. So I'm afraid his love for France will have to remain one of those unfathomable mysteries, putting him in line with millions of French - men and women - who themselves show a devoted love to their country without being able to explain why.

But if the reason for this love is beyond us, the fact itself remains as unwavering as ever. And so imagine Paddy's excitement when after many years of longing and waiting chance finally knocked on his door and the opportunity presented itself for him to see his beloved face to face. For weeks beforehand, Paddy could not contain himself. He prepared his journey meticulously. Every morning before breakfast he would devour the latest edition of the Beginner's Dictionary, following that up with a series of entrancing flights in which he would conjure up one image after the other, revealing aspect after aspect of his beloved's character. And in the week before his departure he washed his feet at least three times a day in order to be sure nothing could spoil the sanctity of the soil he was going to touch.

But if Paddy's love for France was immense, his hatred of cars was even greater. And so, as Paddy first glimpsed the terrain his heart had so longed for, he raced onto deck to be the first to disembark and embrace his long lost lover. But before he could do so, the bowels of the ferry opened and out poured a stream of cars all desiring to penetrate each nook and cranny of his heart's desire. Paddy immediately took fright and did the only thing he could do faced with such horror... he ran. He ran and he ran until he finally found shelter in a pokey, rotten, little cellar in the middle of one of the dingiest streets that county had to offer, where he remains to this day.

But if Paddy's love was ardent, it was also true. The moment a speck of light poured through the crack in the wall that served as his window to the world Paddy would begin writing. As the speck became a ray and beat its constant progress across the wall opposite, Paddy's fingers would become feverish in production - eulogies of praise to his lover; eulogies which no one would ever read.


A quarter past three. Lacy was late - again. Francis' face began to give a good impression of the Icelandic volcano which had taken one cigarette too many. His colleagues kept well clear of him at such times. The minutes ebbed away. Francis picked up the newspaper and flipped through from back to front in under two minutes.

"There never is anything worth reading in this rag."

He'd forgotten it was actually his newspaper; the one that had published his first freelance articles; the one with whom he was at that moment negotiating a large contract. His mind started to wander. He saw himself on top of a podium making his Nobel speech. But the Nobel was only given over to literature. Literature was story-telling. Literature was only for the make-believes of the world. He hated story-telling. Random facts, slanted as you will. That was what true writing was all about. So, he awarded himself a Pulitzer for journalism instead.

He was jotting a few notes on his desk blotter when Janice came up.

"What on earth..."

He glanced up on her and then back down onto his desk. Lacy Scottskin found dead. Journalist arrested. He reddened and tried to give Janice a smile. Just then a head popped around the door.

"Hey folks, heard the news. They just found Lacy down in the cellar. Seems someone swiped him over the back of his head. He's in a pretty bad way."

Janice's eyes widened as she turned back to Francis.


There could be no doubt about it; Tommy was more than disappointed with the horror charm he dug out of his latest packet of griZZlies. He put the sugar cube on the table in front of him. It certainly wasn't a patch on the traitor's-tongue-tip he'd dug out of the first packet. He'd been overjoyed with that - there had been just 13 different pieces; you couldn't cut up a tongue into much more. A fitting end to a tongue that had belonged to Ally Sagen, his country's biggest ever traitor. The second packet also contained a real find: a Dracula-like fang which took pride of place on his neck. And now nothing but a lump of suger. Tommy looked at the packet. He knew most of the names there and couldn't associate any of them with a lump of sugar. Two names, he wasn't sure of; the sugar probably belonged to one of them.

He quickly buttered a piece of toast and raced back up to his bedroom. Ten minutes later he descended the stairs a little more satisfied. It seems the lump of sugar had belonged to a research doctor who had killed his son. He had been doing some research into warfarin anti-dotes and had prepared a few dozen lumps of sugar to administer to a number of volunteers, including his son who had been the first to swallow one of the lumps. Unfortunately... So

Tommy poked his head through the kitchen door to say goodbye to his mother. Sitting at the table in her new dressing-gown she was enjoying her first cup of tea of the day. Tommy froze as he saw that his lump of sugar was no longer where he had placed it.

Being a saint was a damn hard job. Never a moments peace. The moment you got one problem out of the way, the barrier reopened and a hundred others fought with each other to be the first across the threshold. People didn't seem to realise that miracles cost time and energy. Of course, it was all the fault of fairy tales. Their compilers always made things seem so effortless. Take Cinderella's fairy godmother, for instance. All that was required was the wave of a magic wand and hey presto, they all ended happily ever after. But real life, even life after achieving sainthood just wasn't like that.

He remembered taking matters up with a brash sounding scholar at a colloquium. The idiot had just presented a paper on Sainthood and Magic in Ancient European Tradition. The guy didn't have a clue what he was on about. Sprite spent the better part of an hour ranting and raving at him without the guy batting an eyelid. He didn't even believe in the beings he was pontificating on!

Sprite knew the race across the line would take another hour or so before reaching its climax. Time enough to challenge Frankie to a quick game of chess express. After all, wasn't it Frankie's constant refrain:

Games lubricate the body and the mind

This week's Fiction Friday prompt: An April Fools prank gone too far.
It's a long time now, since the famous BBC documentary on spaghetti plantations. Hard to believe that some people really did fall for it. Like Inspector Egghead.

It all started quite by chance. A holiday, a visit to my uncle, a good bottle of wine... a television programme. I say holiday. That wasn't quite true. It was a little more enforced than that. My superior had ordered me to disappear the moment the first headlines started to appear. He'd have given me the sack if he could. But a man who had liberated the kidnapped wife of our venerated Prime Minister could hardly be given the sack; most definitely not by a chief commissioner with high political ambitions himself. Maybe one day, the truth of that little affair, I use the word advisedly, will be told. It was, indeed, my one and only... But I digress.

It started in a small seaside town on the South Wales coast. I had decided to profit from my enforced absence to visit those members of my family who had emigrated to this green and watery land in the early years of the twentieth century. After three months of moving from house to house and then from town to town - I still hadn't seen half of them - my chief's patience was wearing thin. It was time to go home. My brush with the press seemed forgotten, excepting the new nickname they had baptised me with and which will doubtless remain with me the rest of my life.

To be perfectly honest, I didn't have anything against the name Egghead. I take great pride in my bright shiny pate. I wash it every morning and once a month it gets the polishing it deserves at the local barbarian - as you English call him. And as no one told me it was actually meant as an insult, well I encouraged people to refer to me by that name. But again I digress.

So here I was on the first day of April, in this small Welsh seaside town, doing my best keep the rain and the wind off my shiny pate, when I finally found Uncle Pino's café. He welcomed me with open arms, but made sure his very fetching wife, Ginetta, did not do the same; me being just a few more years on the better side of 40 than himself. He introduced me to his favourite customers before he closed the café to make dinner. He always began early Mondays; none of the customers ever stayed beyond 5pm anyway. But the main reason, as he spelt out to me most volubly and with arms racing like a windmill was to further his education. Monday evening was Panorama. Panorama, he explained, was the most Italian of television programmes because it provoked discussion in the café until the next edition came up the week after. Besides, I've learnt an awful lot from it.

So, dinner over but with the wine still flowing we gathered around the small family television only to be astounded by what we saw. This week's subject was nothing other than the Spaghetti plantations of Southern Europe. Pino raised an eyebrow towards me, I shrugged my shoulders but Ginetta wouldn't hear of our turning it off. By the end of the programme it was difficult to tell what was the cause of all the laughing: the idiot English who gobbled down such rubbish like it was gospel; Ginetta who failed to understand how they'd managed to film such unbelievable scenes or the wine whose flow increased in direct proportion to the impossibility of the scenes being painted in front of our eyes.

It wasn't until I was safely snuggled up in bed, that my cynicism kicked in. The British weren't stupid. How could they be? They had a vast colony of Italians come to take up residence here. No! There was something more to this programme than met the eye. I sat up with a start and was dressed and out of the house within five minutes. But what was I to do now. I could hardly go to my bosses and explain to them that I had stumbled on an international plot to flood our cities with some of the most lethal drugs ever produced; with my track record they'd never believe me. Besides, this was my case. No one had even suspected it was nothing more than a poor April Fool's joke. Why let them take all the glory? No, what I had to do, was to infiltrate this organisation. Once inside, I could painstakingly gather my evidence. When I was ready a word to the secret services and bingo I would be in all the newspapers.

Finding the names of those who had collaborated on the making of the film was easy. My problem was how to infiltrate their organisation. The opportunity presented itself some few days later when an advert appeared for part-time workers to help out in an egg packaging plant, owned by one of these crooks. Now that's not exactly being let into the hub of their crime-ring, you might think. And you would be right. But infiltrating would take time. Besides, eggs were indispensable in Spaghetti production. So maybe, this is how I figured, the factory was being used as some kind of a cover-up. It wasn't until I saw one of the workers make a small hole in one of the eggs and suck out the inside, that I understood exactly what was going on.

The eggs were nothing but a foolproof way of transporting the drugs. A few workers - those in the know - would suck out the inside of selected eggs - not too many so as not to raise suspicions - before these eggs were passed on to a secret room where a liquid mixture would be re-injected into each egg. Once cooled the mixture became solid and the drugs could be transported without raising the slightest suspicion.

A few days after this discovery I chanced upon a large cardboard box with the letters BBC stamped over it. Now I had all I needed. My first call was to a the editor of one of our biggest national newspapers. Then I contacted my former chief who somehow didn't sound very pleased that I had suddenly reappeared. But a mention of a drugs consignment passing through his patch within the next few days did enough to placate him.

It was that same evening that the said box was loaded onto one of our lorries for immediate departure the next morning. Again I informed, first the editor and then my boss. I wanted to be absolutely sure that a newspaper crew were there to capture my one moment of glory. And so, shortly before eleven a police escort invited the driver to head into a lay-by and a thorough search of the lorry was made. Myself, I didn't arrive until the search was nearly over, but still early enough to catch the anger of my boss at once again being led down a false alley by his most incompetent element - as he so eloquently put it. It was hard to interrupt him but the moment he finished I explained to him why he had found nothing and how the drugs were actually being transported. Upon which, a look of disdain radiating from his face, he picked up one of the eggs I had pointed out to him and smashed it upon my shiny pate.

And the next day I had my moment of glory when every single newspaper sported a picture of my somewhat soiled face below the headline:

Egghead caught with egg on his face

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