Welcome to Flash Fiction Friday and the eighty-sixth piece in this series. This week’s is a 483-worder by Caron Allan. This story will be podcasted in episode 29 (with three other stories) on Sunday 14th July.
The Blue Dress
“They’ve found something, sir.” A young policeman spoke through the car window. Inspector Smith heaved himself forward on the seat and got out of the car. Seemed like these days he was always tired. Time to quit, go fishing, get away from all this. He’d given them thirty-five years, they’d had enough.
“Is he still alive?” He asked the constable. He looked too young to be a copper. Looked like he should still be in the Scouts. They all did, with their degrees in Criminology and their fresh faces, still with acne, some of them. The constable shrugged.
“The paramedics are still working on him. It doesn’t look too good, sir.”
Inside the funeral parlour, the assistant who had raised the alarm watched as a couple of paramedics laboured over the undertaker. The scrawny white chest was bared for the use of the defibrillator. Smith turned away, the image frozen, a moment in time, imprinted on his mind – a few greying hairs in the middle of the chest, the prominent ribs supporting the pale skin.
“How did you know this wasn’t just a routine call?” The constable was at his side, and the question was a welcome distraction. As Smith responded, they turned about and headed for the rear door. “I mean, we were called out to a robbery gone wrong, and straight away, you knew. It was like magic, sir.”
Smith halted in the doorway and looked at the youngster.
“There’s no magic in this game, son. As soon as we went into the flat upstairs, I saw the dress.”
“I saw it too, sir, but it didn’t ring any warning bells with me.”
Smith looked at him. “You didn’t find it a bit odd that an elderly bachelor should have a blue dress hanging on a mannequin in his bedroom? A blue dress that clearly dated from the 1950s, and was the size of a girl of about 12 to 14 years of age? It didn’t make you wonder if the undertaker had a secret? You didn’t find any of that at all unusual, constable?”
The constable flushed, and looked down at his feet. “Well, I suppose …”
They headed into the back garden. There was a concrete area set aside for client parking, beyond that a tall hedge enclosed a private garden. Some men in plastic all-in-ones had dug up a small patio area surrounded by climbing roses. In any other time or place, a beautiful bower of contemplation. One of the men got to his feet and beckoned the police officers over. He pointed into the shallow pit.
Smith looked. A cold hand clutched momentarily at his heart. He nodded and turned away. The constable was at his elbow like an eager puppy. “Sir? Do you know who it is, sir?”
Smith nodded again.
“Jessie Flynn. 13 years of age. Missing since 1958. The owner of that blue dress.”
I asked Caron what prompted this piece and she said…
The inspiration behind this short story came mainly from your (Morgen’s) online novel-writing group daily exercises featuring a photo of a blue dress on a mannequin. In the end I changed the kind of dress it was to suit the story, but the visual clue set off my imagination. I wondered who the dress might belong to and why it was on a mannequin. I could visualise it standing in the corner of an old dark room, a room no one visits apart from an elderly man. I could imagine him stretching out greedy arthritic fingers towards the soft stuff of the dress. It was a symbol, a reminder of a terrible act he had committed in his past. This was a secret that wouldn’t be discovered until he was dead. The prompts also indicated a character who was always tired and this led me to my jaded detective who has seen too much over his years as an investigating officer. Thank you Morgen for the brilliant exercises!
You’re so welcome, Caron. Thank you for doing something (and great somethings) with them!
Caron Allan was born in Kent and has lived all over the south east of England, and also spent five years in Brisbane, Australia, which has provided plenty of material for writing novels and short stories, mainly in the mystery / crime genre but Caron also writes fantasy fiction.
Married with two grown up children and now living in Derbyshire, Caron has previously worked as a railway ticket clerk, a classroom assistant, a secondhand bookshop assistant, an archivist, and a University administrator.
When not plotting how to kill people, Caron can be found trawling the aisles of her local grocery store in pursuit of everyday items with lethal potential. Other interests include history and family tree research and chatting on Facebook. Caron self-published her first eBook, Criss Cross, on 1 January 2013, and is currently writing a sequel, which at the moment has the working title Cross Check.
Caron’s novel is available via http://www.amazon.co.uk/Criss-Cross-Posh-Hits-ebook/dp/B00BM9AJ3Q and http://www.amazon.com/Criss-Cross-Posh-Hits-ebook/dp/B00BM9AJ3Q.
If you’d like to submit your 1,000-word max. stories for consideration for Flash Fiction Friday take a look here, or up to 5,000 words for critique on my Online Short Story Writing Group (links below).
** NEW!! You can now subscribe to this blog on your Kindle / Kindle app!
or http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008E88JN0 for outside the UK **
You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything. You can contact me and find me on the internet, view my Books (including my debut novel, which is being serialised on Novel Nights In!) and I also have a blog creation / maintenance service especially for, but not limited to, writers. If you like this blog, you can help me keep it running by donating and choose an optional free eBook.
For writers / readers willing to give feedback and / or writers wanting feedback, take a look at this blog’s Feedback page.
As I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t unfortunately review books but I have a list of those who do. If there’s anything you’d like to take part in, take a look at Opportunities on this blog.
I welcome items for critique for the online writing groups listed below:
Morgen’s Online Non-Fiction Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Novel Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Poetry Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Script Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Short Story Writing Group
We look forward to reading your comments.