The Adventures of Rocky the Fish

 

Some years ago, in 1969 to be exact, I wrote this story. 4 months after the story had been written my first son was born. I was tidying up some old papers in the cellar and this story came to my hands so I though I would write it down again. At the time of writing the story we still spoke Engllish at home, so although not perfect, my English did not have the German touch that it has today. I would also add that I am not a fish expert, but just used my imagination. Many fishy eating habits may not be biologically correct, as well as the whole fish world that I have described. I just had fun writing it.

Chapter I – The Big Escape

Once upon a time there was a goldfish called Rocky who lived in a big tank filled with other fish, but his best friend was Twit, the water snail. Twit never had any problems. All he had to do was to keep the tank clean with the other water snails who also lived there. Rocky was glad he had a friend like Twit, because Rocky was a very untidy fish. He was always disarranging the waterweed and making messy holes in the sand at the bottom of the tank. The other fish did not like Rocky because of his untidiness and often used to argue with him about it. Geoffrey, the angel fish, was particularly annoyed.

“Here am I” he used to say, “the prettiest fish in the tank, but Rocky spends all his time making the tank so untidy that it just spoils my beautiful appearance.”

And then he would swim off full of his own self-importance.

“And that’s not the worse”, said Fred the catfish “he messes up the water weed so much that I can’t see out of the glass. Goodness knows it’s bad enough swimming round and round in the same tank all the time, but it doesn’t improve matters when I can’t even see what the humans are doing outside.”

Rocky used to get very unhappy about this situation, but there was nothing he could do. He asked Twit for some advice on this unpleasant state of affairs, but Twit could not help very much.

“You see Rocky” he said in his squeaky high-pitched voice, “my body is built for keeping things clean. Even if I wanted to be messy, I couldn’t. But you are a goldfish and in your case it’s completely psychological. You have to want to be tidy before you can be.”

“But I do try” said Rocky, “it’s just that I never seem to have time as I am always too tired. You know I always have to be on my toes in this place. Most of my concentration is taken up with making sure that I get to the top of the aquarium in time when we are fed or that greedy catfish always eats the lot. And I have to get a good nights sleep of at least ten hours to stop myself becoming giddy going round and round all the time in this awful tank.”

“I think I know the answer to your problem Rocky” said Twit, “but I don’t know whether you will be able to manage it or not. I think what you need is a change of scenery and water and the quicker the better. The best thing for you to do would be to leave the tank for a few water changes and then return once again. I am sure that would do you the world of good.”

“That’s all very well to say” said Rocky, “but you know how difficult it is and don’t forget there were other fish living here that have had big ideas about escape. Remember Blob, the rainbow fish. He decided that we weren’t good enough for him. He was always talking about his noble ancestors and he decided to leave us. He went about twenty water changes ago and never came back. I heard from Geoffrey that he got stuck in the water pipe and just dried up.”

“What a terrible death” said Twit. “But really in your case I think it’s the only answer. Your know” he continued, “the other fish won’t have much more patience with you and there will be trouble quite soon. Fred is slowly loosing his temper and you know what those catfish can be like in a nasty mood.”

“I suppose you are right Twit”, Rocky answered. “I shall make my escape attempt at the next water change” and he then began to mentally prepare himself for the Big Escape.

The day of the next water change came. All the fish became excited because their sense of perception told them that today was the day. Rocky was especially nervous and had not spoken to a single fish all day. Even Twit had difficulty getting him to talk. Twit would have liked to have been able to escape with Rocky, but for a water snail it was impossible. You see, there was only one way to make an escape. All the fish were put into a big sink whilst the tank was being cleaned and fresh water being put in. The hole at the bottom of the sink was naturally blocked, but there still remained the overflow exit at the top of the sink. Of course, there was never that much water in the sink for the fish to be able to swim out, but some of the fish were clever enough to be able to jump up and reach the overflow opening. By this method they believed they could reach the outside world where the big waters of their dreams were.

Rocky had never had dreams about the big waters. He was born in a fish tank and had always lived there. His father often used to tell him of the open seas where the big fish lived and where there was always enough food. There was then no need to wait for a pinch of ants eggs every three days, which was all that could be expected from the humans. As a young fish Rocky used to listen intently to his father and used to imagine what it was like, but as he had never experienced it himself, he was not all that worried. But now he knew that all this time he must have been subconsciously suffering from claustrophobia and Twit had made him realise this.

Rocky naturally felt a bit sad about leaving Twit behind, but he knew that the water snail would never be happy in a big wide open sea. After all, water snails were only needed in a tank (so he thought). In the sea their purpose would be lost. Twit had often told Rocky of the water snails he had met in the tank which had come from the outside world. Most of them were in such a nervous state when they arrived that it was at least four water changes before they could start thinking about keeping the water in the tank clean. This always annoyed Twit, because it meant that he had to work twice as fast to do his job properly.

Eventually the time came. The big tank was emptied into the sink and the fish were glad to be swimming free instead of confined in four glass walls. The sink was spacious and airy and its sides were smooth and cool. Twit clung onto a piece of waterweed as he was swept out of the tank and remained clinging to it whilst in the sink. He did not like the sides of the sink as it was too cold for his sucker and always gave him shocking rheumatism after returning to the tank. Once he got it so bad it put him out of action for a whole water change. Rocky was in the corner of the sink preparing himself for the big leap. He was lucky this time as the water in the sink was higher and the distance to jump was not so far.

“Go on Rocky” Twit said, “now’s your chance. 1, 2, 3 and you’re there.”
“O.K.” said Rocky, “here goes. Thanks for everything Twit, I’ll never forget all you have done for me.”
“Don’t mention it” Twit replied, “I will miss you, but I think this is really what you need. If you ever come back, then I am sure you will be a much tidier and cleaner fish.”
“I hope so” said Rocky and they were the last words he said to Twit because then he jumped.

Although Rocky had prepared himself for his flight through the air, he was not quite ready for the feeling of suffocation he got once out of the water. His gills felt as it they would drop off, but he managed to leap through the overflow exit and then had a feeling of falling, falling, falling …… Rocky became unconcious.

 

Chapter II – The Road to Freedom
Eric the eel was swimming quite calmly and peacefully in the sewage reservoir, wondering where to go next. He had been swept in from the river up the main sewer and decided that he had had enough of the sewage centre. There was not much to eat and he did not like the company. He hated being amongst water slugs as they always made him feel dirty and he could not take his daily bath in this sewer. He also thought the water smelt and in any case it was about time he returned to his wife Daphne, as it was close approaching the Summer holiday season and they should begin preparing for their annual trip to the Sargasso Sea, which is where they went every year to meet their friends. All of a sudden Eric saw something orange and still laying at the bottom of the water next to a stone.

“That’s a colourful looking object” he thought to himself and decided to have a closer look. “Why, it’s a fish” he said and gave it a prod with his blunt nose. “Hey you, wake up, it isn’t time for sleeping yet.”

Rocky felt a slight bump over his gills and opened his mouth and eyes. It was quite dark in the sewage depot and it took him some time to get used to it there. He finally made out the outlines of the eel and felt a bit worried as he had never seen anything quite like an eel before in his tank.

“W-W-Wh-Who are you?” said Rocky, shivering half in fright and half with cold.

“I’m Eric, an eel, but you don’t have to worry about me. I used to eat fish like you, but I’m getting a bit old in the tooth now and can’t manage the bones anymore. Anyhow you don’t look all that inviting at the moment. Not much flesh on you. Where have you been and what have they been feeding you on. You look half starved.”

Rocky told the eel where he had come from and when he told Eric of his diet of ants eggs, Eric became noticeably pale under his shiny black coat.

“You poor fish” said Eric in his deep eel-like voice, “those humans are just about the end. Ants eggs are for shrimps, not for growing goldfish. I don’t blame you for escaping. What are your future plans?.”

“I havn’t yet decided” replied Rocky, “that is, I don’t know” he emphasised. “I don’t even know where I am and I don’t like this place very much, it’s too dark and creepy” and he started to cry, as well as a fish could.

“There, there” said Eric, “don’t cry little one, I’ll look after you. I’m planning to leave this place anyhow” said Eric. “I don’t like it here, it’s much too unsociable and I am beginning to miss the wife, she gets worried when I’m so long away from home. Tell you what, Rocky, I say, don’t mind me calling you that do you?” – he carried on without waiting for an answer – “you can come part of the way with me, but when we get to the open river, you will have to leave me. It looks a bit bad for a grown up eel to be seen with a goldfish. Spoils the image and all that.”

Rocky was still a bit frightened of this new companion, but would do almost anything to get out of this smelly sewage place and gratefully accepted Eric’s offer. He dried his eyes on a bit of orange peel that floated by and shook his tail a bit. This freshened him up and they set off together, side by side. At least Rocky was at the side of Eric’s tail end as Eric was so long compared to the little goldfish. The sewage farm led into a conduit which, although narrow by human standards, was big enough by fish and eel standards and the both of them swam contentedly onwards. Rocky was still a bit pessimistic about the future.

“If this is an example of the wonderful outside word” he thought, “I was better off in the tank, at least I could see something through the windows.”

“Are you O.K. there little one” Eric asked.

“Yes, thank you Mr. Eel” Rocky politely replied.

“Oh, you can call me Eric, all my friends do.”

“Thank you Eric” Rocky replied.

“I wish Twit could be with me” Rocky thought, “he’ll never believe it whan I tell him what my first friend looked like.”

As they were going along it seemed to be getting a bit lighter and there was more space. Rocky caught up with Eric’s head.

“Where are we now Eric” he asked.

“Oh, it’s not far now” was the answer. “I’m afraid we shall soon have to part company, but I can give you some advice before we go our separate ways. Always keep your tail straight and you can’t go wrong. And never make friends with a thin eel. He would make a nice midday meal from the gills. Now here we are at the entrance to the river. I have to make my fairwell now. I wish you the best of luck Rocky and don’t forget, the river isn’t always that friendly.”

Rocky was just about to ask what a “river” was and Eric disappeared.

Rocky found himself quite alone blinking in the sudden strong light which had appeared. The water also felt slightly warmer and fresher. Here it was nice. Perhaps this was the “river” that Eric kept talking about. Rocky decided that he liked the “river” and began swimming about a bit to get the feel of it. The bottom of the river was not sandy as the tank had been, but stony. Rocky liked this, as the stones contained tiny crevices into which he could push his nose seeking out a juicy water flea here and there. Rocky had not eaten since early that morning and was starving. He had never eaten a water flea before but decided he quite liked them, much better than ants eggs. Another nice thing about the “river” was that he did not have to swim in circles all the time. He found that the headache he had had for the past few water changes in the tank had disappeared completely and he felt fresher and a much cleaner fish than he had for a long time.

“I knew Twit was right” he thought. “It’s a shame I’ll never be able to thank him properly for all his help and advice.”

Already Rocky had forgotten about returning to the tank, here he had found at last true happiness and peace.

 

Chapter III – A New World

Rocky was swimming peacefully along the river bed enjoying his new surroundings. Although he was still quite new to the river, he had already decided in his own mind that here he was much happier than in the aquarium with the other argumentative fish. Here in the river everyone kept themselves to themselves and did not bother with other fish’s business. That is, as far as Rocky knew. He had not actually met that many other fish so far and had definitely not spoken to a fish since his meeting with Eric the eel. Rocky was not basically a shy fish as he still had his youthful curiousity, so he was beginning to feel like having a conversation with somebody.

Rocky suddenly saw something flash through a patch of waterweed and decided to go over and investigate. What he found was rather unexpected. There was a creature there which rather resembled his friend Eric but it seemed to have the beginnings of arms and had a complete pair of legs on the sides of its long blunt body. It was not as big as Eric, even smaller than Rocky and it was swimming around on the surface of the water.

“Well” thought rocky, “I have to begin being sociable with my new neighbours at some time or another, so I may as well choose this strange looking creature for my first conversation. He looks a bit like a small version of Eric and Eric was quite friendly so I expect this fish is a well. But perhaps it’s one of the thin eels that Eric told me to be careful of. Oh, well I suppose I had better ask.”
Rocky approached the creature which was now lying on its back wiggloing the funny little stubs it had on both sides of its body.

“Excuse me” Rocky said to it, “but are you an eel?”

The creature turned and looked in Rocky’s direction. At least the eyes moved towards Rocky, but they were a bit difficult to see as they were quite small and set towards the back of the head.

“I beg your pardon” was the indignant reply from the fish-like object. “Am I an eel? Do I look like one of those repulsive creatures? How dare you insult me.”

“I am terribly sorry sir” said Rocky apologetically, “but I am quite new here and havn’t met any fish so far, only an eel and I thought you may be an eel as well.”

“Well, as you seem to have only just arrived, then I shall forgive you this time, but you may as well know that I am definitely not an eel and absolutely not a fish. My name is Terrance and I am a tadpole.””

How do you do Mr. Tadpole” said Rocky politely.

“How do you do” said the tadpole rather stiffly and they both wiggled their tails, which is the fishy way of shaking hands.

“Actually,” continued the tadpole “I’m still quite young you know. When I am older I shall be leaving this wet place for land.”

“What’s land?” asked Rocky.

“Land! Why you are young aren’t you” said the tadpole.

“I’m at least forty water changes old” said Rocky indignantly.

“Well I don’t know what a water change is” replied the tadpole, “but you must be quite an inexperienced fish if you don’t yet know what land is. Land is where I will go when my arms and legs develop like my father and mother’s have. Then I will be a lovely shade of green and nice and slimy.”

“Oh, I see” said Rocky, still a bit confused. “Is everyone on “land” green and slimy?” he asked.

“Oh, no” replied the tadpole, “only us frogs”.

“But you’re a tadpole, not a frog” said Rocky.

“But I will be a frog eventually like my mum and dad” emphasised the tadpole “and now please go away little fish and don’t ask me any more silly questions or I shall quite lose my temper. I havn’t got time to talk to a stupid fish all day long, there are other important things to do. I’m a growing tadpole and need plenty of food to keep me fit. Now please go away and don’t bother me any more.”

“Yes sir” said Rocky and turned away from the tadpole to go further on his way.

Rocky was feeling quite sad now. It seemed that no-one could be bothered with a goldfish in the river and he was beginning to miss Twit and even the other fish in the aquarium. Even if they were always shouting at him, at least they would talk to him. Here in the river he had no-one to talk to and was quite lonely.

“Hello then, what have we here” boomed a deep voice behind Rocky’s tail.

Rocky was quite startled by this intrusion into his train of thought and turned quickly round to see who was talking to him. He was amazed to find an enormous fish, bigger than anything he had ever seen in the tank, indeed this fish would probably have difficulty fitting into the aquarium.

“You are a pretty fish” said the big fish “and what a lovely appetising colour your coat is” he carried on.

Rocky took a closer look at the fish as it was speaking and was quite astonised at the size of the fish’s mouth. Rocky decided it was about time he said something as he knew it was rude to stare.

“I’m a goldfish” said Rocky.

“I thought you were” said the big fish, “I’ve met your type before, but unfortunately I have never been able to get to know them very well.”

“Why is that?” asked Rocky.

“Because I eat them” said the big fish and he made a quick dart at Rocky, but luckily Rocky was still young and quick with his fins and managed to swim out of reach and hide behind a stone.

The big fish, because of his size, was quite clumsy and was not able to reach Rocky, but unfortunately Rocky was trapped. He could not move from behind the stone as the big fish would then seize the opportunity to eat Rocky for his dinner.

“Where are you, you devil” called the big fish. “You wait till I catch you, then I shall make a meal of you.”

“Oh dear” thought Rocky, “now I am in trouble. Oh, why couldn’t I be a clean and tidy fish like the others in the tank, then I wouldn’t have had to leave and come to this place. All that happened to me today is trouble. First a rude conversation with Terrance the tadpole and now this big fish that wants me for this next meal.”

From where Rocky was hiding he could see the big fish quite clearly through a crack in the stone. He also saw something move quickly behind the fish’s tail and suddenly the big fish screamed and turned round. Rocky then saw that there was another fish in the water, about the same size as Rocky, but silver instead of gold, and this fish had neatly bitten into the tail of the big fish.

The big fish had now recovered from his shock to a certain extent and was more angry than ever. He could not decide whether he ought to chase the silver fish or whether to wait for Rocky to come out from behind the stone. He decided that the pain in his tail was worse than the hunger pains in his stomach and began following the silver fish.

Rocky was too astonished at the turn of events to move, but the silver fish shouted out to him to take the opportunity to come out from behind the stone and to escape.

“But what about you?” called Rocky.

“That’s O.K. answered the silver fish, “I can look after myself.”

So Rocky made his way out from the hiding place, but being a brave goldfish he could not let his unknown helper be eaten alive by the big fish so he also gave chase and when he caught up he bit the big fish’s tail, as he had seen the silver fish do it.

“Why, you two squirts” said the big fish “you wait till I get you both, I’ll make you into minced fish”.

“Oh no, you won’t Mr. Trout” called out the silver fish “because you have to catch us first”.

He then called to Rocky to follow him which Rocky did and the silver fish led him through a crevice in between two large stones which the big fish, a trout, as Rocky had now learnt from his rescuer, could not get through because of his size. The tunnel between the stones led to an opening at the bed of the river and both of them paused to get their breath back after the chase they had just had.

“I’m quite out of breath” said the silver fish “it’s ages since I have had so much exercise. Didn’t your parents ever tell you not to speak to a trout in the river” he continued.

“I don’t come from the river” said Rocky “I come from an aquarium and managed to escape, but I think I would prefer to go back if all the fish are as unsociable as the last one I just met.”

“Oh, we are not all like that” said the silver fish. “The trout is getting a bit old in the tooth now, but I can remember the time when no fish escaped from him if he was hungry. Anyhow you don’t have to worry about him any more.”

“Yes, I know” said Rocky “thanks very much, you saved my life.”

“Oh, it was nothing” said the silver fish “but don’t forget to be a bit more careful the next time.”

“Yes, I will” said Rocky.
“My name is Rodney, by the way” said the silver fish. “Who are you?”

“I’m Rocky, very pleased to meet you” and they wiggled their tails.

“What sort of a fish are you?” asked Rocky.

“I’m just a tiddler now” said Rodney, “but one day I’ll grow up to be big and strong like the trout, then I’ll be a roach which is a member of the famous carp family. Great grandfather carp was quite famous in this river, he was quite a chap for the ladies, but not me. I’m the footloose and fancy free type. I havn’t got time for settling down. What about you?”

“I can’t say, I have never thought much about it” answered Rocky, “I havn’t had much time lately.”

“Tell you what” said Rodney, “you seem to be a lad after my own heart and you have a lot to learn in the river. What about keeping me company for a while? I can teach you a lot and it gets quite lonely on my own sometimes.”

“Thank you for the offer” said Rocky, “I am very pleased to have met you and I am sure we will have a fine time together.”

“Well for a start” said Rodney, “let’s swim a bit down stream and I’ll show you around” and they both swam off down the river and disappeared into the waterweed.

Chapter IV – Twit
Meanwhile back in the aquarium Twit was feeling lonely. The other fish never bothered to speak to him as they considered a water snail to be too low a creature for them to speak to. After all, everyone knew that water snails had no intelligence of their own and one could not get a sensible conversation out of them. But naturally this was not true, water snails are very intelligent animals and very clever. Twit missed Rocky very much and wanted to see him again, but he realised that Rocky would never be able to return to the tank. Twit began pining for his friend to such an extent that he could not keep the tank properly clean any more and could just not concentrate on his work.

Eventually the humans began noticing how the water in the tank was getting dirtier and dirtier quicker than it usually did and it meant that the water had to be changed more often. Basically humans are lazy creatures and did not enjoy working any more than they had to, so they decided to find out the cause of the dirtiness in the tank and remove it. It did not take them long to decide that Twit was not doing his work properly and so they put some other water snails in the tank.

It thus happened that one day Twit was clinging to the side of the tank with his sucker when he was suddenly pulled out and dropped into the sink.

“But this isn’t a water change day” thought twit quickly to himself. “What’s happening, there’s not even any water in the sink” and all of a sudden the big tap in the sink was turned on and Twit was washed down the plug hole through the long water pipe.

Chapter V – A Surprise for Everyone

Rocky and his new friend Rodney were enjoying themselves playing hide and seek amongst the waterweed in the river. It was a nice day and the sun shone through the waterweed reflecting a lovely green glow throughout the water.

“It’s your turn now to go and hide Rodney” said Rocky.

“I’m getting fed up with this game” said Rodney, “let’s go hunting. I’m hungry and in any case it’s getting near dinner time.”

“O.K.” answered Rocky. “I’m agreeable, my fins have started twitching so it must be time for eating.”

“Have you ever eaten water worms?” asked Rodney. “They are very tasty.”

“No, I havn’t” answered Rocky “up to now I have only managed to find water fleas to eat and I find them quite tasty.”

“But you havn’t lived until you have eaten a water worm” said Rodney. “They are lovely and juicy, one of them provides enough to eat for a day.”

“Where do you find them Rodney?” Rocky asked.

“Unfortunately you have to work a bit harder for them. They usually live under big stones and you have to push the stone away with your nose before being able to find them. Once found, however, they are not difficult to catch. Let’s try under that big stone over there.”

Rocky swam over to the direction where Rodney was pointing and Rodney quickly followed. They combined their efforts to push away the stone with their noses. After some time it began moving slowly and suddenly the stone turned over. Both fish had to move quickly out of the way otherwise it would have crushed them. The water became dirty where the mud had been disturbed by the moving stone. However, when they returned to survey the aftermath of the operation there were about three water worms wriggling on the bed of the river.

“Follow me” said Rodney and Rodney and Rocky killed them quickly and began eating.

“Why, they’re delicious” said Rocky, “I didn’t know such nice food existed.”

“It’s my favourite meal” said Rodney, “but don’t eat them too quickly or they will give you indigestion.”

After their feast the two fish decided to have a short nap to enable their food to get properly digested.

So life went on for Rocky. He continued learning new things every day from Rodney until the river held no more secrets from him and he felt quite at home. Now and again his mind would go back to the old times in the aquarium, but that was so long ago now, that he had almost forgotten, almost.

One day he was swimming along on his own, as Rodney was away doing his training for becoming a grown up roach with the carp regiment, when he heard the sound of someone crying. It was such a sad sound that he felt he had to investigate to see what was wrong. He moved quietly through the water in the direction of the sound in case there was danger lurking around anywhere and eventually came to a clearing in the waterweed. There in the middle was another fish, something like Rocky, but a bit smaller. This other goldfish was crying its eyes out and looked very miserable and sad.

Rocky was amazed. It was the first time he had seen another goldfish in the river and he had certainly never seen such a beautiful goldfish in all his life. He had grown up quite a lot since leaving the tank and had got a lot older and wiser, but he was still not prepared for this sort of surprise, as it was the first female goldfish he had seen.

“I suppose I had better see what’s wrong” thought Rocky, so he swam over to the female fish.

“Can I help you?” asked Rocky.

The other fish turned round started, but when she saw it was another goldfish her big round eyes lost their frightened look.

“You startled me” she said, “I thought it was “them” still after me”.

“Won’t you tell me what’s wrong?” asked Rocky.

“I’m so miserable” she answered “and I have had such a terrible shock it nearly made my gold turn yellow.”

“Oh no” said Rocky “your coat is a beautiful colour if I may say so.”

“Thank you” said the female goldfish and she blushed quite obviously underneath her gold coat, giving it a lovely reddish glow. “If you are really that interested” she continued, “I will tell you what has happened.”

“Please do” said Rocky “I may be able to help.”

“It all started some time ago. You see I don’t come from the river, but I come originally from an aquarium, but one day the aquarium broke and all the water flowed away so one of the humans picked me up and put me in the sink, but I got washed down it and eventually arrived in the river.”

“Well” said Rocky, “something like that happened to me too, but I was glad to escape from the tank and now I’m quite happy here.”

“I was too” she said “but something terrible has just happened and I just feel so miserable. This morning after waking up I felt hungry and all of a sudden I saw a nice juicy worm at the top of the water. I hadn’t been able to find a decent meal all week so you can imagine how hungry I felt and I grabbed it. Suddenly I felt something underneath me and I was being lifted out of the water. Just imagine, being taken out of the water. It was just like when the tank broke, but worse.”

“You poor thing” said rocky sympathetically. “Do go on.”

“I discovered that I was being lifted out in a sort of net, but luckily the holes were big enough to escape through, so I managed to swim out just before being lifted completely out of the water, but then this net started following me all along the river. I tell you I had to swim for my life before being able to find a stone big enough to hide under. I stayed there for at least a whole half sun rise until I thought it was safe enough to come out. Eventually I found this clearing here amongst the waterweed and when you appeared I thought they were coming after me again. I am sure it’s the humans you know, I heard their deep voices above the water as I was being taken out.”

“How awful” said Rocky “you can’t trust anyone these days.”

“And now” continued the female fish “I have just about had enough of this river. I havn’t spoken to anybody since coming here, but you and I feel so lonely and miserable” and she started crying once again.

“There, there” said Rocky and put his fin around her. “Don’t cry anymore it spoils your wonderful fishy looks.”

“You are the nicest person I have met since coming to the river” she said “What’s your name.”

“I’m Rocky” he said “May I ask yours?”

“Of course”, she replied, “I’m Esmerelda.”

“Well, Esmerelda, I tell you what, dry your eyes and we’ll go for a swim together”.

“Oh yes” answered Esmerelda, “I would enjoy that very much” and they both swam off together fin in fin.

That was the first of many swims that Rocky and Esmerelda had together and they were very happy in each other’s company.

When Rodney returned from his military training, he was not surprised to find that Rocky had a girlfriend. After all Rodney realised that Rocky, although a good friend, was not like himself and was the sort who should settle down with someone. In any case Rodney had been promoted this time whilst in the army and was now becoming roach of the first grade, which meant he would anyhow have to part company with Rocky, but the two fish still remained good friends and always wiggled tails when they met by chance in the river.

Eventually Rocky asked Esmerelda to marry him and Esmerelda accepted, so they began looking for somewhere to live. They eventually found a nice spot in the river, but it needed cleaning quite a bit before being habitable. This mean a lot of work for them both, but then something happened.

One day Rocky was hunting for worms for him and Esmerelda when he turned over a big stone (he was now a big strong goldfish and could turn over stones on his own). Underneath was not the river worm he expected to find, but who do you think? Why there was Twit, his old friend, the water snail.

“Twit, what are you doing here” asked Rocky.

“Rocky, why you’re still alive” said Twit, “I am glad to see you.”

Then Twit explained about being not wanted in the aquarium and told Rocky about being swept down the sink through the sewer to the river, where he had been ever since, looking for something useful to do and getting more and more miserable all the time.

Rocky then told Twit of his plans on getting married.

“Do come and meet Esmerelda” said Rocky “I am sure you will like her.””

O.K.” said Twit, “but I don’t know what she’ll think of a poor old unwanted out-of-work water snail like me, who is no good at his job any more.”

“Now come on Twit” said Rocky, “you know that’s just not true, why in a couple of sunrises you will be your old self.”

Esmerelda, being a very nice goldfish, naturally took to Twit straight away and had a wonderful idea, which she discussed with Rocky. Then they both approached Twit.

“I say Twit” said Rocky “Esmerelda and I have been talking it over and we have found somewhere to live, but it’s going to be a lot of work to keep it clean. What I mean to say is that we may need someone, that is, Oh Twit will you come and be our sort of cleaning help. I mean you are so good at it and it would be nice if you would accept.”

Twit could not believe his ears, at last something worth doing, what he was meant to do, a purpose in his little lost life. He accepted.

Now if you ever happen to be walking by the river on a lovely Sunday afternoon and see a family of goldfish swimming along accompanied by a family of water snails (Twit was not so old after all) then you will know who they are.

14th May, 1969

A further note: As you can see this was written in 1969, more than forty years ago. I have not reread this or done any corrections, it is just as I wrote it at the time

 

The Lift

lift
The letter was burning in Jeff’s pocket. It was one of those bad moments in his position as personal manager for the company. The company was not doing so well and decisions had to be made. For the younger staff, not so bad. They would find another job, in another company, but Joseph FitzSimmons, no, that just did not have to be. Admittedly he was on the wrong side of sixty, but officially he would be retired in two years, so why not wait? Companies lived from their profits and if money had to be saved, you started with those that could have an early retirement, then the lazy ones and eventually the workers you wanted to get rid of for some time. Joseph was number one on the list, he had to go.

Jeff liked Joseph. He was a good man, a worker, never complained if he had to work more hours, if he had to come in on a Saturday morning – no problem. His wife had died a year ago and he was on his own.

“I think I will wait until I give him the letter”, Jeff was not happy about this. Then he was distracted by the telephone.

“Jeff Relf, Machine Tools Incorporated, can I help you.”

“Of course you can Jeff, just pack your stuff together and come home, dinner is nearly ready and I have a funny feeling that this evening things are going to happen.”

Jeff took a quick look at his watch, it was Jean his wife and she was right, it was time to go home.

“Things might happen, you mean…”

“Yes Jeff, I do, tomorrow we are going to be three in the family most probably. But no hurry, I will just be glad when you are home.”

“I’m on my way love” and Jeff quickly cleared his desk and said his goodbyes for the evening. He had a train to catch and certainly did not want to be late. There might be a baby on the way.

He glanced quickly in Joseph’s direction and noticed that his desk was already abandoned. He usually caught the same train as Jeff.

“Perhaps I could give him the letter when we part company at the station,  no tomorrow morning would be better.”

Jeff left the office and enterered the lift, expecting to see Joseph, but there was no Joseph. “Thank goodness for small mercies” thought Jeff and entered the lift. The door was just closing when it sprang open again. Joseph was out of breath as if he had been running.

“That was lucky” Joseph said “I thought I had missed it already.”

“I wondered if you would catch the lift, I thought you had already left” answered Jeff and he pressed the button for the ground floor.

“No, I had some business to finish first of all.”

The lift moved and then there was an abrupt halt. Jeff was propelled to the opposite wall and there was a complete silence. No sound of a lift motor. and the lights went out. He could only hear the sound of his own breathing.

“Joseph, are you there?”

“Of course I am Jeff, don’t intend going anywhere else at the moment. It seems that we are stuck, no light and no movement.”

“Not exactly what I need at the moment. My wife called to say that our baby will probably be on its way this evening and being the first, I really don’t need a lift that breaks down.”

“No worry Jeff, I am sure things will turn out right. Just don’t panic.”

“But if I miss the train, then I can be lucky to get home in the next hour.”

“Same here Jeff, but you are lucky to have someone waiting for you. I just go home to an empty house since Doris passed on. But I don’t want to bother you with my problems, I have had a good life, good job and good colleagues. I am sure that this lift will start moving soon and you will be home in time.”

Jeff was surprised how calm Joseph was. No light, everything broken, perhaps the lift might start tumbling down the shaft, and there he was quite cool telling Jeff not to worry.

“You know Jeff, I am sure my days are numbered in the company, I am not getting any younger, and have to make room for the youngsters. Today the new generation has to be dynamic, no time to consider personal problems, just look forward and walk over the bodies of the superfluous employees. I can see how things are going and am glad to go.”

“But Joseph, you are are one of the best.”

“Thanks Jeff, but we both know that the end comes just when you don’t expect it. I think I will be glad when I meet my Doris again. I am sure she will be waiting for me. Sometimes I think I can see her.”

The conversation was becoming somewhat weird for Jeff’s taste, but then suddenly there was another jolt and he could hear the lift machinery again. The lights went on in the lift. Jeff just wanted to reply to Joseph’s words and reassure him when the lift doors opened at the ground floor. He looked to Joseph to wish him a pleasant evenng, but Joseph was no longer there.

“He was quick” thought Jeff “probably in a hurry to get home and so am I.”

Jeff left the lift and hurried on his way to the station. He glanced at this watch and saw that he had only a few seconds to get the train. He then found the entrance blocked by police and ambulances.

“I have to catch the train” said Jeff to a policeman.

“No more trains today” was the answer. “There was an accident at the station. The train arriving got derailed and a lot of people have been injured and killed that were waiting for the train to arrive.

“But how will I get home?”

“There are busses waiting as a special service.”

Jeff managed to catch a bus and eventually arrived home.

Jean was waiting for him.

“Thank goodness you are ok and that nice Mr. FitzWilliam called me to say I shouldn’t worry, you were not in that bad accident. There were a lot of people killed. It was the train you always catch.”

“I know Jean, but luckily the lift broke down in the office and I was late. You said Joseph called you.”

“Yes, he said not to worry and you would be home about half an hour later than usual. And now Jeff, you can call a taxi, our son has decided to put in an appearance this evening.”

So Jeff and Jean were soon on their way to the maternity hospital.

The next morning Jeff arrived at the office and wanted to thank Joseph for phoning his wife and tell him that he was now the proud father of a son.

“Didn’t you hear Jeff” said his secretary.

“What?”

“Joseph was killed in the train accident yesterday evening. He was one of the passengers waiting for the train on the platform when it derailed. It is so tragic.”

Creative Challenge 228 – Brotherly Love

Stables at Sissinghurst

“What do you think Jason, looks like a fine horse.”

“Yes, Bill, I reckon we will get a lot of work out him. Ok, Johnny what do you think, you are standing there holding her as if you have already adopted her.””

“She is a lovely horse uncles, can I go for a ride with her?”

“Of course you can son, she is all yours.”

“You mean she belongs to me.”

“It’s your birthday son and that is our birthday present” and Bill and Jason, the two uncles were proud of their son Johnny.

The thing was no-one was sure who Johnny’s father was. Jason and Bill were both in love with Sarah, Johnny’s mother, who died giving birth to Johnny. Sarah could never make up her mind between Bill or Jason. Of course it was a secret, but Bill and Jason were brothers, had gone to school together, shared everything, and had inhehrited the farm from their father. Sarah was a good housekeeper, looked after both the men and one day she told them she was expecting their child. She was not even sure herself who the father was.

Jason and Bill both had a guilty conscience, but they were brothers and Sarah being Sarah told them straight out.

“Listen boys, you are both good men and I could not wish for better fathers for my unborn. You both know how things have developed on this lonely farm, but I just want a good life for my child.”

Six months later Sarah went into labour. It was deep Winter, they were snowed in and had no chance to call the local physician or a midwife, so they did what they could. It was a difficult birth. The baby was in the wrong position and Sarah could not be saved. In the nineteenth century medicine had not made such progress as today.

They decided they would do what they could for Sarah’s son, who they named John, after their own father. Strange circumstances called for strange ways. It was decided that Johnny would call Bill and Jason uncle, although for Bill and Jason Johnny was their son.

And today Johnny was sixteen years old and he was given his first horse, a white mare, which he named Sarah after his mother who he never knew. He often wondered about his family circumstances, but Jason and Bill were the best uncles he could wish for.

Creative Challenge #226 – Junkyard

YMCA from Grenfell Avenue, Hornchurch

It was not really a holiday, but time to visit my dad who lived in London. Not exactly the tourist version of London, more the real world, people working for their living or just enjoying the senior years of life. On my way to my father’s house in the morning, combined with a bus journey, I walked along a residential street leading to the main road and bordered at the top with a few offices and small industries. Did I have my camera with me? Of course, a camera is part of my dress, I feel that something is missing without the camera. I then approached this “interesting” yard at the top of the street. The local YMCA was just around the corner and I found this a subject for a contrast photo, old and new.

I stood poised with my camera, focusing to what I needed. If I had been more interested in the details of what I was taking a photo of, I would have noticed him marching towards me with determined steps. My only remeberence is now the man you can see in the middle of the photo.

“Are you taking photos?” a  voice said, making me look up into the eyes of a young man, with a definite somewhat foreign appearance. His next question quickly followed “Are you from an insurance company?”. He was glaring at me and I thought now it has happened. What my other half is always telling me. “Be careful with your photography. Not everyone understands or likes being the subject of a photo.”

“I just found it an interesting subject, with the YMCA building in the background. I am on holiday in England and like to take a few photos of the area where I am staying” was my feeble answer, hoping that my camera and I would survive.

“I see, you know we sometimes have inquisitive people here with a camera prying into our private business.”

“No problem, but I was really just taking a photo. I can show it to you” and I made a feeble attempt to show him on the camerea screen. “I can even delete it from the camera”, I suggested, although it was not my genuine wish, but I was slowly becoming a unsure.

“No, not necessary” was the answer “but just don’t pry around too much. Not everyone is as understanding as I am”.

We were having our conversation at the entrance gates to the yard. In the background I could see another figure standing at the entrance to the “office”. I was really not sure if it was an office, imagining a smoky den with overflowing ashtrays and a gangster wearing dark glasses and of course the local river backed onto the office. Not the cleanest of rivers, brown muddy water, but flowing and even a few ducks found their nourishment in the waters.

“Jack, what is she doing. If she is causing trouble, I will pull in the boss. He will soon deal with a prying skirt and her inquisitive camera” called the voice from the office.

“No problem Sharpy” was the answer from my inquisitive friend (friend?). “She seems to be one of those arty farty camera people, taking photos to make herself interesting.

Ok Miss you better be on your way, before me and my partner think otherwise. Just take a  bit of advice and ask first before you take a photo. OK?”

“Ok” was my answer and I moved on, taking a photo of the river on my way to the bus stop wondering what those murky depths might be hiding.

River Rom

That evening I returned to my friend’s house where I was staying and told her and her boyfriend about my experience at the Junkyard in the morning. Her boyfriend laughed so I got curious to know what the joke was.

“It’s one of those places where they deal with second hand cars. Where they get them from and who they sell them to, or for what they are used is a bit doubtful. The place has always been there, and they are probably not too keen on insurance men, or paparazzi photographers.”

I decided to take a different route to the bus stop in future. I had visions of landing in a river with my pockets full of stones to weigh me down, or trapped in an old car and submerged, forever a murky secret of the River Rom. One thing did interest me, why there were so many telephone wires leading from the junkyard to the post outside – probably just the english way of doing things.

Telephone wires in Grenfell Avenue

Creative Challenge 225 – On the Edge

Solothurn, North-West

“This is it” she thought “If you want to do the job, then do it properly. No second thoughts, the last chance of a lifetime”. Morana knew what she wanted to do, there was no stopping her. She took a determined step forward and precariously lifted one leg over the iron banister. She held on the railng with her hands to keep her balance and pushed upwards to get the other leg to follow. The wind was blowing stronger, but not too strong. It was a gentle summer wind, almost refreshing.

Now she was poised on the edge, shaking a bit from the exhaustion of the climb and from the steep drop to the town square. Looking downwards made her nervous. It was now or never. She felt like a circus actor, balancing on the tightrope, surrounded by nothing. Suddenly she was startled when a large bird flew over her head and dropped a sample of his recycling process on her head.

“Nooo, I did not bargan for that” uttering some words that her mother did not like to hear from her lips, but she did not care any longer. Morana was doing what she wanted to do, and not what her mother wanted. All her life she had to follow what the others said. The bird returned, circled around her head and made a neat landing on the railing next to her. Not exactly what Morana wanted, but it was ok, at least she was not alone in the most important moment. The bird started to make throaty noises, as if in sympathy with Morana’s predicament. “Don’t worry, I am with you now and we can both fly away together.”

“No, I want to do this alone.”

Suddenly she felt a movement behind her. She turned her head and saw a Japanese couple, tourists, with their camera ready and pointing. Not in the direction of the breathtaking view, but in her direction. They were speaking in their incomprehensible language and she was sure they were laughing, although she did not find the situation in the remote funny.

“Go away, leave me alone” she shouted in their direction.

“What are you doing” were the next words she heard, loud and clear, from a uniformed man. Was it a policeman? No, it was the wrong uniform. It was the man that sold the tickets for entrance onto the tower. “It is not allowed to sit on the raililng. They are there for the protection of the public.”

“Just leave me to do my own thing, please. I do not need any interruptions at the moment, or distraction.”

“Ok, miss, just take it easy. Don’t move, Help is on its way. Just breathe deeply and relax, it cannot be that bad, nothing is that bad.”

Morana was surprised at the change of tone in the ticket salesman’s voice, suddenly with feeling.

Morana took her courage in her hands. It was now or never. She reached into the bag she had on her shoulders and opened the clasp. She took out her camera and made the photos of a lifetime, one after the other.

When the ticket salesman returned, he was accompanied by a doctor and two members of a rescue team dressed in their uniform of illuminating colours. Morana was then standing on the platform showing the Japanese tourist the photos she had taken with her camera, who were nodding in appreciation of the perfect results.

“Are you all right Miss?” asked the doctor. “Do you need help? Tell me your worries” and he carefully approached Morana and put his hand out. “Just give me your hand and I will take you down. I know that life has a lot of problems, but nothing is that bad.”

“Sorry, I don’t understand. My name is Morana Risk and I work for the local newspaper as their star photographer. At the moment I am working on a project called “On the Edge” and showing a series of photos that are taken from high altitudes. My only problems are the interruptions from people that don’t let me get on with my job.”

Creative Challenge #223 – Burden

Remand prison, Solothurn

It was the early morning hours, the twilight hours, that give him most trouble. He was awake, light started to stream through the slits in the barred windows and this was a problem. He preferred a darkened room, close your eyes and forget. Forget the problems and burdens of life. Now he had to wait until someone somewhere in a remote place switched the electric lights off so that he could sink into sleep and sleep was what he needed.

Being awake the ghosts of the past would return, complaining, pulling at his nerves and telling him “Look what you did”. He was not really a murderer, it just seemed that life was against him. He remembered his first wife.

“I’m pregnant” Alice said “now we will have to get married”. At the age of 25 he found he had no choice. Fingers in town would point at him and her and she would certainly not keep her mouth shut. He already regretted those stolen moments early in the morning in the field when Alice was willing and so was he. He wondered if she was the right choice, but soon found she was not and on top of it all she was not pregnant, just a trick to get a man who would bring home the money.

His father was a doctor, the line of many in the family, so Charles also became a doctor and he was a good choice for Alice who needed a little bit more from life; being someone and going places she thought. Alice was his first victim. It was so easy. Drugs and poisons were at his finger tips. He tried not to make her suffer too much, but death came to her like the rest. She always appeared in the twilight hours, watching him with her mocking face and her common laughter.

The other ghosts were not far behind. Some he married, some he didn’t. He really tried to find the right one. He just wanted to be understood and find a partner for life.

“Hey Charles remember me” and he looked up and saw the shadow of Maude. She was leering at him with her piggy eyes, sunk in the fatty polsters of her face. Maude was just plain fat. When he married her she had an hour glass figure, one that any woman would be proud of. Living as a doctor’s wife seem to change her. She discovered the good things in life, going out to dinner, being invited to parties and being a member of the upper class people of the town. She changed, putting on weight and discovering the benefit of a glass or two of wine with every meal. It was when she started enjoying the benefits of alcohol with her breakfast that Charles decided the time had come to dispose of another one of life’s female burdens. With her dimensions, it was easy to give her a drug to cause a heart attack.

The women began to appear at his bedside, one after the other. Some he remembered and some not. At the trial he was accused of being a burden to mankind. Charles, a burden, no. All the others were the burdens. If only one of those nosy coroners did not decide to make a reputation for himself and start stirring up his past. Of course three of his wives had died unexpectedly. Charles thought he could get away with it, but medical science was making progress and there were some things you could just not hide any more.

“So now they have you” said Christine from a corner of the cell, standing where the sunlight was highlighting the spaces in the bars. It was getting brighter, but the ghosts seem to become more intense.

“Not long now” they all said, “it’s easy, just make a few knots in the sheets and stand on the chair, we will kick it away for you.

“Leave me alone” he cried out, “leave me”

After a while there were footsteps in the corridor. It was the priest and the prison guards coming to fetch Charles for his last walk. They found Charles hanging from the bars of his cell, he was no longer a burden to the world. And the ghosts had already left him, perhaps to meet him on the other side.

Orange

Orange coffee

Mavis arrived just five minutes late for her date. No problem, she decided the first time she meets a man that she does not know, she would not arrive too early. Nothing more embarassing that being ordered and not picked up. It was a jump into uncertainty, but she decided she had been alone long enough. She had loved her husband and he had loved her, they had been together for so many years. Shared so much, visited museums, on holiday in far away places together and exchanged views on their favourite books. Now she was alone. Joe had a stroke that took him from her within five minutes and she had missed him and their common interests.

She felt lonely afterwards. Her friends had at first invited her to visits, shopping trips, meals, but she realised it was a false picture that was painted of their interest. If you were alone, you were alone, and not having a partner meant that you remain a figure on the edge.

Mavis took her courage in her hands and wrote and received an answer. His name was Grant, two years older than herself, and widowed. He was looking for someone to share his interests and so was she and a  meeting was arranged. They both had a photo of each other, although the photo from Grant was a bit blurred at the edges, but she found he looked ok. Above all a clean gentleman, well dressed, and not fraying at the edges. Just to be sure Grant said he would meet her at the new restaurant in town, known as the Orangerie, and would be wearing an orange tie to elimate any mistaken identity.

Mavis stood at the restaurant entrance and her eyes scanned the tables, all suitably covered with an orange table cloth. It was then that she saw him, at least she saw the orange tie, looking a bit colourful with his dark blue shirt. Mavis was wearing a dark blue costume with white blouse, so she decided they would at least suit each other in colour. She walked over to the table and Grant stood up. He was a few inches taller than she was, “at least the size was right” she thought.

“Hello Mavis, pleased to meet you” he said whilst he pulled a chair out on the opposite side of the table to seat her. “Seems you have noticed my orange tie” and he laughed showing two rows of perfect white teeth.

Mavis was impressed. This Grant was a man that took care of himself, despite the orange tie and dark blue shirt.

“Yes Grant I noticed the tie straight away. It certainly suits the surroundings.”

The waitress appeared at the table with her pencil and paper ready for the order.

“What would you like to drink Mavis” Grant asked. “A coffee perhaps?”

“Yes please. That would be fine.”

“We would recommend our apple tart and freshly whipped cream as today’s speciality” the waitress suggested.

“That would be just right and you Mavis.”

“Oh yes Grant” and the waitress disappeared to fetch the order.

Grant and Mavis were now left alone. Mavis felt a little nervous.

“It seems you are also now alone in the world Mavis” said Grant “as I am”. My wife died a year ago and it is not easy  being on your own.”

“I know what you mean Grant” and Mavis began to tell him about her loneliness since Joe died and Grant listened.

“It must have been hard for your Mavis, I know what you have been through. Since my Philomena left me, I have felt exactly the same. It seems there is no enjoyment going out alone without a partner to share with you.”

And so the conversation continued. The waitress brought the coffee and apple tart which was a perfect dot on the “i” and Mavis found Grant to be a very nice gentleman.

After an hour Grant suggested they would now leave the cafe and perhaps take a walk in the nearbye park together. Mavis had not been on a walk with a gentleman for so long, she was happy and they walked amongst the flower beds arm in arm.

Mavis noticed the sky getting darker and heard the clock on a nearbye tower striking six in the evening.

“I should be going home Grant. It is getting late and I have to travel to the other side of town.”

“Yes Mavis” was the answer. I will accompany you to the bus stop, but not without asking if you would see me again. Perhaps next Sunday afternoon. I could meet you at the park gates and we could take a walk through the park and catch up on the last years of our lonely lives.”

So Grant accompanied Mavis to the bus stop and waited to see her depart, thinking next Sunday is the day for us both. It will be a triumph I am sure.

When Grant arrived home he removed his orange tie and put it away in the box he had in the cupboard, together with the red tie he was wearing a month ago. He liked order in his clothes and these ties were special. He reflected on the days when he was a boy at school. Oh how the other children laughed at him, today it would be called mobbing. Just because his mother had a thing for colours. Yes she was a colourful person and Grant was the object of her colour tick. A red shirt with a green pullover. She always knitted the pullovers with contrasting colours, so probably there were a few colourful stripes, some yellow and black to make him stand out even more. But these days were almost gone, just almost.

The memories of the beatings and fights and laughs of the kids at school still haunted him sometimes. His mother was still alive, although she did not really recognise him when he paid a visit at the mental hospital where she now was. An old lady, still knitting colourful socks for the other patients. They all loved the socks, Alzheimer came in strange ways.

The next Sunday Grant prepared for his afternoon date at the park. This time he was not wearing a tie, although he had put the orange tie in his pocket, together with an orange.  The weather was warm and he was wearing a short sleeved shirt, also orange, but  more in a pastel shade. He waited at the gate and Mavis arrived a few minutes later.  She had been watching from the shadows of a tree. Again she did not want to be the first.

They wandered again amongst the flower beds talking and Grant said he felt a little tired, perhaps they could find a bench in the shade a sit awhile. Mavis was glad and so they searched for a bench, but most were occupied.

“I know where we might find an empty seat” said Grant,”just follow me”

Mavis followed, but somehow she felt at unease. The path lead to a thicket of trees just where the forest began

“Come on Mavis, don’t worry, just follow. You will be safe with me” and then Grant suddenly disappeared. He was walking in front of Mavis, but she was alone, no Grant to follow. Yes, Grant was very clever and sly, most murderers were.

“Here I am Mavis” and those were the last words Mavis heard, as Grant pulled his orange tie tighter around her neck. He put the orange in her hand and left removing the tie from her neck and putting it in his pocket.

“Old ladies die quickly” he thought and Mavis was quickly no longer. His car was not parked far away and he was soon home again, putting the orange tie next to the red one in the box.

“Two down and five to go” he thought. His mother taught him “Richard of York gained battle in vain” meaning “red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet” the colours of the rainbow. Grant at last saw a claim to fame, being known as the Rainbow Murderer. It would take some time for the police to find out who and what was happening. Perhaps they might even get the answer when he would use the violet tie on a victim, the last one in the row, who knows. And if they did not, he would just have to start again.

He remembered last month’s victim, her name was Rose and he strangled her with the red tie in the box which was now laying next to the orange one. He even placed a red rose in her hand to emphasise the colour.

He was already thinking ahead, buy a yellow tie and perhaps a Grapefruit or banana for the finishing touches. Yes, the Rainbow Murderer will strike again.