I figured that if I exhibited a sample of one of my Causality Merchant books, I would be remiss if I didn’t do the same for the sequel…
So please accept this extract from Present Imperfect.
Janice looked about her in wide-eyed wonderment. The interior of the Courtney’s home was like a living museum. Snatching a look into the kitchen from the sitting room in which she now stood, she caught sight of an open cupboard – complete with boxed food stuffs that included Bisto Gravy and Kellogg’s Cornflakes, and unbelievably a plunger-capped bottle of Corona Lemonade. Mavis removed a tea caddy from the cupboard, and closed the door.
Looking away Janice noticed a quiescent television set in the corner of the room. She hadn’t recognized it at first because of its apparent disguise – that being its construction of lacquered wood, and its subsequent vague resemblance to a piece of furniture. She was reminded of her earliest memories – of visiting her grandmother in her house of brown-on-brown décor and yellowing picture rails and dull whitewashed ceilings. Of wall paper that dated from before the Second World War.
“Oh, I see you have a television.” Janice tried to sound impressed at the presence of a piece of ancient technology.
“What’s that, dear?” Mavis popped her head around the doorframe as the kettle began to whistle.
Janice nodded towards the TV. “I don’t suppose everyone in the village has one of those?” She said.
“Oh, the telly.” Mavis all but dismissed the device. “That’s George’s pride and joy, that is – though I don’t know why: there’s hardly anything on it, and when there is you can’t see much of what’s going on. Me – I like the cinema. Those Technicolor pictures are wonderful. I can’t see telly ever catching on.”
Any further discussion on the merits of cinema verses television was interrupted by the sound of child coughing upon the floor above. Janice automatically looked heavenward.
“Oh that’ll be Wallace.” Mavis answered Janice’s unspoken question. “Poor little mite – he’s had that cough all day and all last night. If he’s not showing signs of getting better by morning I’ll take him to see that lovely new doctor at the surgery. He’s quite a dish. Have you met him? I think his name’s Doctor Traynor.”
For a moment Janice forgot herself, and lowered her guard.
“Doctor Traynor?” She blurted. “He’ll still be here in forty years time!”
Janice couldn’t quite describe the look she received from Mavis. But after a moment she said, “Oh-no, I shouldn’t think so: he intends going places. He wants to be one of them Harley Street specialists.”
Janice felt that she should try to explain her outburst.
“What I meant was – I expect he’ll fall in love with the village, and decide to spend the rest of his life here. I’m sure I would: it’s a lovely place. So tranquil.”
“Some would call it a bit boring.” Mavis returned to the kitchen to pour the tea. “I know George wouldn’t mind leaving if the right job came along. Take sugar, do you?”
Mavis wasn’t aware that Janice had risen and followed her into the kitchen, so she was startled when Janice spoke from directly behind her.
“Two please. Is that a new gas cooker?”
Quickly recovering, Mavis replied proudly, “Isn’t it smart? It arrived this morning. George had it fitted before he went out. Bob Langtry did it in a bit of a rush: George’s the treasurer of the Ancient Order of something-or-other, and had to be off a bit sharpish. I’m not really supposed to use it until he’s a had a proper check – but with the old electric stove unplugged, and sitting in the garden, I couldn’t boil the water for Wallace’s hot water bottle and our cup of tea any other way. I’m sure it’ll be alright.”
Janice thought back to her childhood. She tried to recall the distinct aroma of the gas used during that era. She couldn’t, but she was certain that she’d recognise it when she smelt it. As surreptitiously as possible she scented the air.
“Would I be right in thinking that they use piped town gas here?” She inquired. “It doesn’t come in a steel bottle or anything like that?”
“We’ve just been connected to the mains.” Mavis informed her knowledgably, “They spent a fortune extending the pipe up from Crampton. Funny, isn’t it – us country-folk using town gas? Don’t seem right somehow.”
“Perhaps they should re-name it. They could call it Coal Gas.” Janice pretended to agree with the young mother. “But aren’t you worried that it might be dangerous?”
“What – compared to electricity? No of course not.” Mavis exclaimed. “And it’s a sight better to cook with too, I can tell you. My sister swears by it. Instant heat – instantly off. No more milk boiling over. Now that has to be a safety feature.”
Janice nodded, but she looked about as convinced as she felt.
“Well doesn’t the thought of suffocation worry you?”
This was obviously a subject upon which Mavis had conversed before.
“George says that as long as the equipment’s working fine and there’s no blocked flue, there’s no chance of that happening. Next you’ll be suggesting that it might explode in the middle of the night!”
This thought was foremost upon Janice’s mind. She bit her lip with indecision.
Mavis noticed this.
“You do think it’s going to explode, don’t you?” She spoke in a puzzled tone. “Now why on earth would you think that?”
© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014
One of these days I’ll write the sequel to the sequel. It’s not like I don’t have time or anything. But for now both Causality Merchant e-books are still available. You can access the better-known suppliers by clicking on the images on the side bar.