I hugely enjoy writing. Fiction and poetry. I don’t' seem to find time to write often and I only seem to do it if there is a deadline. If someone has given me a title or subject and there is a date it needs to be in by. About six years ago I started a two-year Open University Creative Writing course. I completed the first year and passed so went on to start the second year. Life began to get a bit bumpy and I put my writing aside to concentrate on the external 'stuff'. Then four years ago I entered the SWI Federation Show Creative Writing competition for the first time, submitting a poem and a short story. To my complete astonishment I got Gold for my poem and Silver for my short story and won the Cup! That was a bit of a surprise! The Show is held bi-annually so it was held again this year. I was in a bit of a quandary. Do I enter again? How can I top my first year? What to do? After much thought and mental cogitation, I thought I would write something for the entries and if I didn't like them when I finished I didn't have to send them in. The story was to be less than 1000 words and the subject 'A Tall Tale'. No other help or guidance given. So I put pen to paper and came up with the following tale.....
A Tall Tale by Kate MacDonald
A Tall Tale
Malcolm strolled across the forecourt, seemingly relaxed. In fact he was alert to every sound: each dry leaf blowing along the verge, the discarded coffee cup rolling under a car, each scuffle and scutt, every squealing brake, child cry and horn blast. All had been checked, assessed, and categorised as needing no further attention.
The electronic door swished open as he approached. A quick recce of the reception area showed him that it had been a busy evening, the wastepaper bins were full of the ubiquitous plastic coffee cups and chocolate bar wrappers, a couple of the chairs were askew and the floor needed mopping, but it was still early and Ina hadn’t reached Reception yet, offices being first to receive her ministrations. Taking all that into consideration, he decided that on the whole everything was as it should be. Glancing at Lena on Reception he nodded and she smiled back, “Morning Malcolm” she called, as he shouldered his way through the hallway door that always stood ajar, against the rules, but no-one ever shut it.
He carried on down the corridor heading directly for the Incident Room, knowing that it was there he was likely to find the object of his affections. There she was, looking through a file at her desk. Her long tawny coloured hair twisted up untidily and secured with a number of biros, tapping her fingers to a tune only she could hear, whilst she studied a series of photographs. He walked up to her chair, standing just behind her, relaxed and at ease for a moment. Sensing his presence, she turned, smiling into his golden brown eyes.
“Hello gorgeous,” she crooned, as he moved to sit on the end of her desk, allowing her long slim fingers to massage his neck and stroke his shoulders. “Fancy giving me a hand this morning?” Gazing at her Malcolm simply blinked slowly in assent. He looked over her shoulder at the photographs now lying scattered across the desk.
“It’s a tough one, cookie,” she said noticing the direction of his gaze and returning her attention to the pictures. “We don’t know where to start. This one’s eluding us. However many traps we set, he is getting away before the team arrives. It’s as though he knows where we’ll be and when we’re going to strike, ahead of time. There’s a leak in this department big enough to sail the QE2 on.” Her brow furrowed in distress. Tapping the side of her mug she mused wryly, “Time was that the police paid snouts for information on criminal activity, not the other way around!” This case vexed her. If she could only find out who was supplementing their income by apprising this guy of their movements. Catching him would be a real feather in her cap. She could do with solving another crime to prove that the last one hadn’t been a fluke, finding the source of this leak would be a start.
She watched Malcolm roaming around the office. His attention was caught by something in the still full wastepaper bin of one of her colleagues. Ina hadn’t reached the Incident Room yet, although the whirring noise of the vacuum cleaner which could be heard coming down the hall bumping into the walls as it was tugged along behind her, signalled she wouldn’t be long.
“You can’t be that hungry!” Julia called across, “Anyway, Gary ‘The Hoover’ doesn’t ever leave food!” However, it wasn’t food Malcolm was looking for; he had hoiked out a piece of crumpled paper from the bin and was studying it intently. Curious, Julia went to investigate. Standing next to him she could see that it had been torn from a Police daybook and she bent to pick it up saying, “He’s going to get in to trouble for that if anyone finds out.”
Malcolm looked at her intently. A prickle of disquiet ran down Julia’s spine, her guts flip-flopped. She’d had this feeling before, had learnt to listen to it, and to Malcolm. Smoothing the paper out she saw it was a list of dates, and locations she recognised, across the top in pencil was scrawled a phone number. She returned to her desk and started to type, her fingers clicking quickly across the keyboard, then she picked up the phone, dialling the Telecoms department. Whilst waiting for the call to be answered she stole a look over the top of the screen to check that she and Malcolm were still alone. “Yes, Hi Steve, could you look up a number for me?” Listening to his reply she scribbled a couple of notes before replacing the receiver. She sighed with satisfaction. Five minutes later the bin would have been emptied and the leak would have carried on, dripping away, wasting detectives’ time, allowing more drugs to reach the streets, causing more deaths. Now, with the evidence Malcolm had unearthed, and the details confirmed by Telecoms, she could help put a stop to all that. She looked around for Malcolm to tell him what she’d found out, but he’d gone. Never mind, she thought as she got up from her desk, I’ll buy him dinner tonight.
Malcolm was stalking along the corridor, proud, upright. He brooked no nonsense, suffered no fools and took no prisoners; ironic since that was his preferred sleeping place. He was often to be found snoozing on the pile of grey blankets on the cell bunk. No-one knew where he came from, no-one knew his real name, for it certainly wasn’t Malcolm, but on that subject he kept a judicious silence. He answered to none and was nobody’s lap dog. He lived alone; he walked alone, and worked alone. Occasionally, on cold nights he could be found tucked into the small of a warm back, helping Julia to right wrongs. A feline criminologist, Malcolm worked for the CSI, Cats of Singular Intelligence at GCHQ and was rightfully DSI Norfolk Alfred Magpie, but Malcolm would do.