I’m not, I’m really not going to mention that name. Putting President in front of it makes an oxy-moron that I refuse to write. I am not going to repeat all the reasons why he is unfit to be President. The fact remains that by the system of the USA, stupid though it may be these days, he has been elected, and for the second time this year I felt sick over a vote. I hope that my (and many other people’s) worst fears aren’t realised.
Everyone is asking how it happened. The same as we asked how Brexit happened. There are lots of reasons but it is a bit disingenuous of the people in politics and government and any sort of authority to express their wonder. The fact is that in the USA, UK, and elsewhere in the West conditions have conspired to, to use a crude phrase, piss a lot of people off. They have seen their jobs disappear, their earnings and savings shrink, public services deteriorate, while those “in charge” appear to get richer and richer. They have got more and more disillusioned and angry and this feeling has been fed by the media (of all sorts). For some reason the people who should notice didn’t, or thought these people didn’t matter. Even the pollsters have failed time and time again to factor in the under-current of despair and anger. So, I fully understand the unrest bubbling under the surface and why in democracies the discontented masses became a majority (sort of).
What I fail to understand is why so many people put their faith (yes, that’s the right word) in people who are far removed from them and, despite them mouthing the words, cannot possibly share their experiences. These populists pumping up the fear and loathing are rich and have few if any ideals. Here I am including Txxxx (no I can’t write it), Boris Johnson, Nigel Farrage and the rest of the leading Brexiteers, although I am unsure of the background of the Le Pens and the other rabble-mongers across Europe.
Why have no leaders arisen from the populace as in days gone by? Do you have to have money now to have a voice?
I don’t often mention my fantasy novels in this blog but I am delighted to show a new portrait of September Weekes, the heroine of Evil Above the Stars (1, 2 and 3). It’s by my niece-in-law, Katie, and I hope she’ll do some more. Thanks a lot Katie.
I am approaching the end of another September novel; a different setting although it is a sort of continuation. More news soon I hope.
Below we have the second episode of Falloff, a Jasmine Frame prequel novella. The title may seem a bit crude given what happened in episode 1, but it is in fact a photographic term as all the prequel titles (but one) have been.
Falloff: Part 2
He whispered to Angela, ‘The girl. I can’t believe that the girl we saw first at the airport Sunday morning is dead.’
Angela answered, as awake as he was. ‘I know. She and her friends seemed to be having a good time. Mind you, I wasn’t really awake enough to take much notice.’
James smiled. He had been the same.
It was the morning after the wedding. They’d barely had an hour in bed at the hotel where they’d had the ceremony and reception. He’d wondered whether it was a good idea to book a flight early in the morning, and now he was convinced that it hadn’t been; but it was cheap. The whole honeymoon thing was cheap. Angela’s parents and his own had contributed to the celebrations but the week away was their own responsibility. After just a few months as a police officer following three years at university, James hadn’t built up any savings. Angela’s finances were hardly better despite an earlier start in her accountancy career. Ibiza was inexpensive and they fancied the dancing in the clubs despite the downside of the resorts being filled with young people escaping from their regular lives. Why not, they were young too.
They had arrived in the departure lounge at around seven a.m., bleary-eyed and still feeling the effect of the long day of celebrations. All James wanted to do was sleep but even that was impossible. The hall was full of people, many a similar age to themselves but there were also families with children under school age and older couples. All were taking advantage of the lower prices before the school holidays began. They did find a pair of seats that proved to be too uncomfortable to sleep in. It was probably just as well as they did not want to miss the call for their flight.
Instead James drowsily watched the other holidaymakers. Most of them seemed very wide awake despite presumably having had early starts to get to the airport for the morning series of charter flights. There was the group of boys and girls who appeared to be just a little younger than their own twenty-two years. They had been in front of them in the baggage drop-off queue They were in good spirit, no doubt aided by the spirits they were imbibing despite the early hour. Were they university students, or young workers or perhaps post-A level students? James couldn’t decide. The girl with the long blonde hair stood out mainly because she was draped around one of the boys, a muscley hunk of a lad. They were hooting and calling to each other, finding lots of mysterious objects for laughter.
The same group of boys and girls were in the queue to go through security, and the passport check. When the call for their flight came, James noted that the blonde girl’s group also made a move and as he suspected they were on the same plane. He and Angela followed them up the steps and the girl and her guy dropped into a pair of seats together. Thankfully, the flight was calm and James managed to get the sleep he desired.
They were together with other young people on the connecting coach which delivered them to the Hotel Arena and James wasn’t too surprised that his and Angela’s room was adjacent to the rooms occupied by the girl’s party. They hadn’t seen them again for the rest of the first day. All he and Angela had wanted to do was relax. The week before the wedding had been tense as they struggled to get all the preparations done on time. The wedding itself had been joyous and he had been jealous of Angela in her simple but attractive white dress. The reception and party after was fun but exhausting: trying to speak to all the guests; knocking back all the drinks that were offered and taking the lead in the disco dancing.
For the rest of the Sunday, James and Angela lounged around the pool and carried out a gentle exploration of the hotel’s neighbourhood. They had a quiet dinner for two in a small taberna they found in a back street and then headed for an early night, well, early for the Med.
The girl and her group had not been seen at breakfast the following day but James did notice them heading for the beach later in the morning as he and Angela prepared to explore the town. On their return, he had seen boys and girls coming and going from the adjoining rooms so he didn’t know which of them were occupying a particular room.
That evening they planned for their first venture to one of the dance clubs. For James, it was an opportunity to be Jasmine. Together Jasmine and Angela had prepared for the evening, donning similar light, short dresses and colourful make-up. Angela persuaded her that she did not need to wear her long blonde wig which would have been unbearable in the oven-like environment of the dance floor. Jasmine spiked her hair and agreed that it didn’t look any less feminine. They had set off to El Danza arm in arm and met the blonde girl and her friends at the entrance. They had barely glanced at Angela and her partner being far too interested in each other.
The dancing had been fun and exciting. Jasmine relished the feeling of the loose dress swishing over her thighs as she danced. Angela’s enjoyment of dancing with her as a girl and not as a hunky guy added to her feeling of contentment. The experience was not even marred by approached from a few unattached but hopeful boys, dismissed effortlessly by Angela. Nevertheless, Jasmine and Angela left the club while the dancing was at its height. Jasmine wondered whether she could possibly be feeling old already or whether she was just tired from pressure of starting a new job and the marriage. Perhaps it was just the urge to fall into bed together.
Despite all the sightings of the girl and her friends Jasmine hadn’t really taken much interest in them. The more she thought over the last couple of days she could not recall seeing the girl looking upset or depressed. So why had she jumped off the third-floor balcony? If it was an accident, what were the causes? And if not an accident, what did that leave?
The image of the body was clear in James’ mind. Except she hadn’t been just a body when he found her. She was breathing her dying breath. Something didn’t seem right.
‘I remember something about that girl,’ Angela said dreamily.
‘She had fantastic finger nails. She must have spent hours with the varnish.’
James tried to recall seeing her hands. A different image came into his mind. The girl spread out on the lawn, her arms and hand splayed out.
‘They weren’t fantastic after she’d fallen,’ he said, ‘I think the nail on every finger was broken.’
Angela lifted her head from his chest. ‘How did that happen when she fell?’
‘I don’t know. In fact, I think some of her fingertips were quite bloody.’
‘What does that mean?’
‘It means she didn’t have an accident or jump off the balcony. It was murder.’