As long as I can remember I wanted to be a writer. Life intervened and it is only now I am giving myself the time to try and fulfill the ambition. I was delighted to win the Ireland’s Own open short story competition 2020 and have had some stories published in the magazine. I enjoy the form of the short story and equally enjoy developing a plot, especially of the mystery/crime type. My dream is to become a published author.
I have just sent a submission to Poolbeg. It probably falls into the category of Cosy Crime and I’m hoping they will consider it for their Crimson imprint. It’s both exciting and nerve-wrecking – after all I’ve sent my baby out into the big world and I can’t be sure it’s fully prepared for all that means!
It was a perfect hiking weather. Light cloud, gentle breezes and the whole day before them. A rough road brought them to the foothills, barely three kilometres from Knocknaclogga. They had walked, agreeing that a warm-up would prepare them for the climb. Lauren raised her face to the wind, sniffed the air and laughed.
“Slí Buí is living up its name. Look at that yellow. And doesn’t it smell divine?”
“Amazing.” Trout agreed, although anyone watching would have noticed that he was looking at the woman, rather than the glories of the furze.
“Shall we head up The Hump, cross the ridge and come back down along…?”
Trout started and demanded “Hump? What hump?”
“Don’t tell me you’ve forgotten the Hump?” Lauren turned to look at him. Her laughter died when she saw his face. “What is it?”
“I thought the voice said dump but suppose he said hump.” Trout stared up the hillside. He felt a familiar twitch in his nose. His Sergeant used to joke that his nose was more accurate than radar when it came to detecting trouble “Could it be possible that he was heading for the Hump?”
“He’d need to have known the area.” Lauren didn’t dismiss the idea. Trout had told her about his middle of the night call. Now she picked up his unease and turned to scan the slope. “There’s a run of shallow caves at the back of the Hump.” She said slowly.
“I’d forgotten them.” Trout frowned. “Lauren I’ve a bad feeling about this. I want you to go back and wait…”
Lauren looked at him, settled her day-sack more comfortably. “Get over yourself Trout.” And set off up the track.
Trout watched the slim, compact figure stomping away from him. Still stubborn he thought and loped after her.
They hiked in silence. The track was mostly a well-trodden trail through the heather and gorse. As they climbed the countryside opened behind them and the elevation rose in front of them like terraces in a paddy field. After the first push they stood, pleasurably winded, and viewed around them.
“What would bring a gangland feud to Knocknaclogga?” Lauren studied the lie of the land. The village spread below them, the almost deserted countryside around them.
“Someone who knew a hiding place in the area and thought it would be a safe bet.” Trout turned to scan the rough terrain and the barely discernible path to the top. His eyes narrowed. “Is there much stock on the hills?”
“Some. Usually later in the year, more into the Summer. Why?”
“Looks like ravens circling. Over to the right, half way up from here. Must be a carcass…”
“Oh.” Lauren turned, followed his gaze. “It’s not sheep country but deer live on the hills,” she said doubtfully. Then, “Don’t even think about it Trout. I’m coming!”
“It won’t be pleasant if it’s what I fear.”
“You know Trout,” Lauren was watching the birds’ wheel and dive, “I’ve felt more alive since you’ve been home than I’ve been for years. I’ll chance it.”
A straight-talking woman. Trout smiled a slow, easy smile that crinkled his eyes and softened the craggy lines of his face. He could live with that.
They made a beeline for the birds, zig-zagging diagonally upwards and across the face of the hill. The scrub gave a mostly solid foothold with an occasional boggy patch. The hollow sounding kronk-kronk of the ravens became louder and added a sinister feel to the air. They emerged slightly above the spot marked by the birds.
Trout shot out a hand and stopped Lauren. “Something rolled down this hill recently.” She looked where he indicated and nodded, too breathless to talk. Their eyes tracked the broken bushes, trampled heath, disturbed heather and followed the destruction to a dense thicket some twenty meters below them. A flicker of blue shone through the undergrowth and Lauren gasped, a dirty runner was sticking out from behind it.
“Stay here.” This time Lauren made no objection.
Carefully, taking a wide arc Trout picked his way towards a shallow indent closely covered with heather and ringed by soft, fresh growth furze. He stopped level with the shoe. He looked for a long moment, then turning slowly, surveyed all around him. His eyes panned to Lauren. “Poor sod. At least he’s face down. The ravens haven’t done too much damage yet.” He pulled out his phone and made a call.
Lauren picked her way down to join him, being careful to follow where he had stepped. The body was lying, almost hidden by the scrub, arms out- flung, face sinking into some boggy moss. Trout was taking pictures of the scene from every angle he could without actually approaching too near. He turned. “You ok?”
She nodded, shivered, “We can’t really see anything.”
“We can see enough. The lads will come as fast as they can. I said we’d wait, keep the birds off.” He hesitated. “You don’t have to if you don’t want.” He said without looking at her.
“It’s ok Trout. I’m a big girl. I can take a bit of waiting.” She watched him as he stared at the body. He looked like a dog pointing out fallen game. “Do you know him?”
“I won’t know for sure until he’s turned over but he has the shape of a guy I know, Freddy…liked to call himself Freddy the fly.”
Lauren looked at the prone figure. “Freddy the fly?”
“Trout twisted his lips in the grim parody of a smile. “He fancied himself a fly on the wall of certain establishments…”