Wensleydale and Salmon

George Wensleydale loves his balcony. A cup of tea, a good book, glorious sunshine and, above all, peace. These are the things he cherishes.

Unfortunately, his neighbour has other ideas. Her constant intrusion into his quiet time, as she wanders around her garden brashly calling for her cat, drive George to the edge of insanity.

The only way to resolve the issue, is to hatch a horrifying plan...

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5. Chapter 5.

It had been a beautiful summer’s afternoon. Wensleydale sat on his balcony, washed, shaved and dressed in a crisp white shirt and cream linen trousers, a steaming cup of Earl Grey at his elbow.  In his hands he held a brand new paperback copy of The Jaws of Death.

His peace had remained undisturbed, save for the gentle droning passage of the occasional fat bumblebee and the urgent chirruping of the birds. For a brief moment, he thought he’d seen movement in the shadows of his neighbour’s garden, a brief feeling of being watched, but he’d chuckled and resumed reading, and the moment passed.

Aloysius Pendlebury, as in all his novels, had just filled his briar with Black Mallory in preparation for a soothing smoke, a delightful leitmotif which signified he was about to reveal the identity of the murderer. Wensleydale smiled, almost wriggling with anticipation as he read on.

The smile faded from his lips as he saw his monstrous neighbour walk into her garden, faded dressing-gown wrapped tightly about her corpulent frame, beetroot-face shiny with grease from some fried mid-afternoon snack. She moved heavily up the path towards the rear of her garden, slippers slapping against her cracked heels as she trundled forwards like some organic form of earth-moving machinery draped in towelling.

It was at that moment, Wensleydale saw it. In the branches of a tree, hidden from the view of the malodorous harpy standing on the path, lazily basking in the sun, was a young black cat with a small white star on its forehead.

The woman started to call. “Princess Calicalpurniaaaaaa!”

(Pause)

“Princess Calicalpurniaaaaaa!”

(Pause)

“Princess Calicalpurniaaaaaa!”

Wensleydale regarded the cat. The cat regarded Wensleydale.

For a brief, impossible moment, he was certain the cat smiled at him as it lounged in the crook of the tree branch, unmoving. Wensleydale slowly placed his book face-down onto the table and walked into his house.

A few minutes later, he returned with a glass of water and a sandwich, sitting down and carefully draping a napkin over his lap.

As his neighbour continued to call, her penetrating voice echoing across the garden, slicing through the summer, repeating the same words again and again and again, George Wensleydale calmly ate his sandwich, pausing only to wipe away a fleck of purple salmon from the collar of his shirt.

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