Authors: Liza Cody
Loved this book!
Well told story
Wow! Miss Terry is one of the best books I have read in a long time… Wow!
Different, thought-provoking mystery
An unusual—and very topical—book that I strongly recommend.
A great read
So glad to see Liza Cody is still writing
Another great Liza Cody
A gripping story very well told…
A. B. King
What a writer!
Good outing by Cody
Ian S. Maccarthy
Half of a good novel
Merle K. Gatewood
Fresh and Different
Liza Cody’s the best!
A masterpiece, of sorts
I loved this book/Leading the field again (
Mrs L C Harvey
The Truth About Rock and Roll
The music biz, the seventies, born again rock chicks…
Other books by Liza Cody
Anna Lee series
Bucket Nut Trilogy
BALLAD OF A DEAD NOBODY
LUCKY DIP and Other Stories
Copyright © 2013 by Liza Cody.
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This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, names, incidents, organizations, and dialogue in this novel are either the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
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ISBN: 978-1-4917-0746-3 (sc)
ISBN: 978-1-4917-0747-0 (e)
iUniverse rev. date:
Cover drawing and design by Elsie and Emzel
And with love to Sue, Brigid, Ben and Nell—in memory of Brian Garvey who, in a very real way, made all this happen.
With a big thankyou to Julie Lewin for her sharp eyes
In Which I Bump Into The Devil
he silvery man looked plump and prosperous in his fine wool coat. Through the glass door he’d seemed good natured as well. My mistake. Never judge a man through glass. Always wait till you can smell him. This one smelled of tomato soup and single malt—a smug smell.
He said, ‘We’ve all got to work—except, apparently, you. Why should I give you money? No one gives me any.’
He pinned me back against a no-parking sign with contemptuous eyes, and in front of all the city workers rushing to go home he said, ‘I’m not going to feed your habit or encourage your laziness.’ He had a rich brassy voice, loud enough to be heard a mile off.
Then he walked away. I hate it when they do that. It’s like saying, ‘I don’t even want to
What does he mean—no one gives him any money? What about all the tax breaks, business expenses and bonuses? People are giving him money all the time.
You think I don’t know about playing the system? I haven’t always looked like this, you know. I wasn’t born out here. If you make your mind up about me too quickly you’ll be as guilty of bigotry as that snotty guy.
Electra pushed her wet snout into my hand and I stroked her sleek narrow skull. ‘Never mind,’ I said.
Public rejection is hard to recover from. Bastards like him in their clean wool coats never imagine you might need a pick-me-up to help swallow their self-righteous words.
A woman in a black city suit said, ‘I heard that.’ She held out a pound coin. ‘I’m not saying I disagree, but what about the dog?’ She smelled far more womanly than she looked—of breath mints and rose-water.
I held my hand out for the coin. At the last moment she snatched it away and said, ‘This is for the greyhound; not you. You’ve got to promise you’ll spend it on him.’ Like she was offering me a fortune instead of one measly pound coin that would hardly feed Electra her supper.
‘Her,’ I said. ‘She’s called Electra. She’s a rescue dog. If I don’t look after her the animal shelter people can take her away.’
‘I should hope so,’ the woman said. ‘Why did you name her after a girl who killed her own mother?’ Maybe the breath mints covered the acid scent of cheap white wine.
I said, ‘Her racing name was RPA Radiovista’s Electra of South Slough. Nobody murdered a mother.’
‘Electra did.’ She released the coin into my hand and started to walk away.
‘Why?’ I followed. I love stories.
‘Sorry, I’ve a train to catch. Look her up. Google her.’
Of course I will, on my thousand quid laptop which I can plug into any fucking lamp-post in London. Know what? The shelter where I sometimes sleep makes you buy a key before they let you charge your mobile phone for an hour. If you’ve got a mobile phone and haven’t been robbed when you were sleeping rough because your stupid dog was too much of a pussy-cat even to bark and wake you up. Murder her mother? Hah! You got that one wrong, office lady—this Electra couldn’t kill a crippled bunny. Unless of course she just stared at it with her big tragic eyes and the bunny committed suicide out of sympathy.
Those eyes are why I got her in the first place. Electra can screw coin out of the coldest of hard hearts. Me? They don’t care if I live or die, but then I’m not Ms Pitiful like she is. Sometimes when I really need extra cash I bandage her paws. It isn’t dishonest: she actually does have arthritis in her legs and feet. A lot of ex racing dogs do, and trudging around on stone-cold pavements doesn’t help. Bandages just make her pain visible. And they make me look like the caring owner I am when normally nobody sees me at all.
People like dogs more than they like people. And they’re right. You can actually help a dog but you can never really help people.
Look at me and Electra—she’s old and arthritic. The bastards who raced her would’ve put her down. When I first got her all she knew how to do was run, but not fast enough anymore to escape a lethal injection. She didn’t know how to sit on a sofa and be sociable or sleep snuggled up. She’d never seen a sofa in her life and greyhound trainers don’t snuggle worth a damn.
I took her and fed her and kept her warm. I’ll feed her and keep her till the day one of us dies. I wouldn’t do that for a broken down old human athlete with social problems, would I? And nor would you, unless you were maybe a saint or related by blood or way better at solving human problems than I am.
Then again, if you look at it from her point of view, I’m not the disappointment you’d expect me to be. She was brought up in a cold concrete kennel block without human kindness. I’m not letting her down in that department, am I? She isn’t lonely because she’s got me twenty-four seven. If she didn’t like me she could just walk away—she isn’t tied up.
When I first got her she used to stand with her tail between her legs, shivering and not making eye contact. She used to flinch when anyone tried to touch her. Now she lets strangers give her a pat and she sticks her nose into my hand when she wants to be noticed and petted. We didn’t go for couples therapy or any of the shit you’d have to go through with a human being. No. Electra just got into the habit of trusting me and trust made her happier. You could never do anything that simple for a human being. I think people are too complicated to be content with simple happiness. That’s why I’d rather talk to Electra than anyone else on earth.
We collected about seven quid and when rush-hour was over we walked west to get ready for the evening entertainment crowd. When people get too drunk and abusive, we go to the hostel if we managed to keep enough coin to pay for it or we find somewhere safe-ish to put our heads down. Or we do the rounds of the charity shops to see if there’s anything in the bags outside that’ll fit me.
First though I had a little taste of the Algerian red—just enough to recover from the insults and to make the evening warmer. Then I wandered down St Martins Lane towards Trafalgar Square. If you can’t get a seat on a bench there, you can always sit on the steps. I like Trafalgar Square. There are masses of tourists to listen to and someone always makes you laugh by jumping in the fountains or falling off one of the bronze lions.
That’s when I bumped into the Devil, also known as Gram Attwood, coming out of the National Portrait Gallery. Him with his cool blue eyes and his vicious little smile. I didn’t think it was vicious in the old days—I thought it was cute. I thought
was cute. And he was—for a thief and a killer.