Sunday, August 07, 2011

An unexpected pleasure

Written for Sunday Scribblings 'Pleasure' and Carry on Tuesday 'If I should die...'

‘It’s my pleasure’ said Graham Gulliver as he handed the book to his admiring fan. Next in the queue was Elisha Fewlam, a lady whose enigmatic presence oozed sophistication and confidence, so much so that Graham felt drawn towards her in  the way authors do when spotting an interesting character that would fit well into a new novel. ‘Mr. Gulliver’ said Elisha. He blinked a couple of times then smiled as the spell was broken and he found himself back behind the pile of books awaiting his signature, and a line of eager readers snaking its way back through paperbacks and into the stationery department. ‘I’m sorry’ he said ‘to whom shall I dedicate it?’ ‘Letz’ said Elisha ‘my husband, Letz’. With a flourish of his hand he autographed the front page, and then offered the book to Elisha. ‘I hope he has as much pleasure reading it as I did writing it’. But the book was not intended for Letz.

‘Murder Most Secret’ had been well reviewed. Graham Gulliver’s followers were always eager to discover the latest idea he’d come up with to disguise murder as suicide or simply a mysterious disappearance. Elisha saw it more as a reference book than a crime novel.

In another part of town, Letz was sitting in a plush leather chair talking across an opulent mahogany desk to his solicitor Horacio Hunter, making a subtle change to his last will and testament. ‘Always a pleasure to see you Letz’ said the solicitor. ‘I just wish you’d tell me the reason for this latest alteration’

’Worry not Horacio’ said Letz. 'If I should die before Elisha she is still the main beneficiary; I’ve just made a small change
to the way in which she receives my estate.

Back at their stately pile, Elisha closed the book then placed it on the coffee table. She made her way to the kitchen. Who needed a recipe when she had Graham Gulliver to guide her?

The next morning Elisha made Letz his coffee at the usual time and took it through to his study with a piece of her homemade Victoria sponge cake. Letz's face lit up, cake was one of his simplest yet greatest pleasures. ‘Thank you my
dear’ he said.

‘I only hope you get as much pleasure from eating it as I did making it’ said Elisha. She then explained that she had to run an errand and would be back later in the afternoon.

But she didn’t come back that afternoon. In fact she didn’t come back for several days.

When she returned she gingerly opened the creaking door and ventured slowly and quietly into the hall. She called Letz's name. Of course, she didn’t expect a reply. All she expected was to see Letz slumped in his chair no longer in this world. But he was nowhere to be seen. She walked into the kitchen; not there. Upstairs to the bedrooms, not there either. She went back downstairs and into the dining room. There on the table was the slice of cake , still whole, and alongside it an envelope. She opened it. Inside was a letter from Haynes and Son, undertakers, expressing great regret and explaining that her husband had passed away. Despite the best efforts of friends and family no one was able to reach her with news of Letz’s demise. She was invited to the chapel of rest were his body was awaiting her. Everything seemed to be going to plan although she was a little worried about the uneaten cake. However, he was gone and in just a few days, and she’d be meeting Horacio Hunter for the reading of the will.

At the Chapel a suitably morose gentleman, head bowed, walked toward her and gestured for her to enter the room where a lily covered coffin stood on trestles. She tried to suppress a smile because he’d always hated lilies; reminded him of death he’d always said. She didn’t want the lid opened; she had no reason to ever see him again. Later that day she met with their family doctor who said that his sudden death had been a complete mystery and despite the best efforts of the coroner, no reason could be found. It remained unexplained and probably down to natural though unexpected causes. A few days later she watched his coffin being committed to the flames.

Horacio Hunter handed Elisha a key. He explained that Letz had reduced his will to just a few words, and he’d placed everything of value including deeds and bank authorisation letters in a deposit box at Heathrow airport.

TV programmes and radio broadcasts were interrupted that afternoon as news of an explosion in Terminal 3 spread throughout the media. Was this the latest terrorist attack? Who was responsible? Sadly there were a considerable number of casualties and one fatality. The dead person was found to be Elisha and a terrorist organisation eager for publicity falsely took the blame.

Fast forward a year. It’s summer on the sundrenched Mediterranean paradise of Barbados. There among the banana trees and ornate blooms sits a villa, and on the veranda is a writer known locally as Mister Cheetham is putting the final touches to his new book. He raises a glass of rum in a toast, and thanks his absent friends for the inspiration they afforded him. Then he lifts the papers, knocks them into a neat pile then places them in a box. There is a label on the lid and on it he writes ‘Houdini Had Nothing on Me’, a novel by Letz Fewlham.


  1. Downright weird! They did seem so loving, too, didn't they?

  2. Intriguing little tale that needed a second read to check the wording of the will! Great fun... for him!

  3. He certainly did fool them..or Elisha at least..a clever box if tricks.. Jae

  4. Well written, well plotted; enjoyable.

  5. Very interesting, mysterious piece. Kept my attention from beginning to end and from beginning to end, again. Loved it!

  6. very interesting and reflective one.

    bravo, wise thoughts shared.

  7. An amazing story with a twist!

  8. So.......... what happened to the cake?

  9. Whitesnake - I'm eating it now- ugh,ugh,burp, ugh, goodbye!

  10. Clever man. Yes, it held my interest too.
    A nice read, thank you. :)

  11. You have found your genre: yours could be the next "Murder He Wrote".

  12. Whoever identified the body didn't do a very good job. Poor boy, wonder who he was?

  13. WoW! What a story and who'd have guessed that twist at the end!
    Smiling...I'm with vivinfrance...move over Murder She Wrote (which I happen to like), here comes Murder He Wrote.


  14. Echoing the others, wouldn't this be fun to see on tv! How about "Mystery" on public tv?



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