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Short Range Forecast


Rusty Broadspear

Anything pleasant, unexpected, out of the ordinary, challenging, Emma Bluebird would welcome with open arms, accept with an open mind and ride with it. More often than not she would be in the driving seat.

Anything unpleasant, unexpected, disturbing, dark, bad tidings, sinister, Emma Bluebird would use her imaginary bat and bat it away or she would duck and watch it fly overhead. More often than not she would smile, step to one side and wave it on by.

Emma Bluebird was 28 years old, blonde, slim and about one third the way up on the attractiveness scale. She was married with two children, boy and girl, five and six years old respectively. Her husband, Don, was an architect; he was eighty per cent up the ladder of success. Probably because he didn’t have Emma to worry about. She walked out on him and the children, five years ago. His mother moved in with him to help look after the babies which meant he didn’t have to climb down the ladder, even for a moment.

Although it was mid Monday morning, Emma was dressed in a Sunday best church outfit, white flowing knee length cottony dress with navy blue belt. White, wide brimmed hat with navy blue band around the rim. Patent leather navy blue handbag and matching shoes with semi stilettos.

The day was dull and getting duller by the second. A huge black cloud the size of London hung like a suspended ceiling, close enough to touch and ready to burst.

Something even darker was racing into Emma’s life, approaching so fast, her imaginary bat would be futile. Something so immense that ducking or side stepping would prove impossible. Plan B was the only plausible course of action – to walk away and let it slam into her from behind. She wouldn’t know the exact moment of impact so until that moment she would live pleasantly with pleasant thoughts, however forced. If not offered a lift then she had about another mile to walk to the phone box that she’d passed in her car 30 minutes ago. The breakdown was unexpected, a flat battery in her mobile phone made things unpleasant but both of these annoyances were very battable, so that’s what she did, batted them away.

Jon Treadwarton drove slowly and very erratically. He was steering with his knees, whilst staring bug eyed into the rear view mirror, trying his best to burst a ripe, ready to burst on it’s own anyway, spot beside his red bulbous nose. He was sweating, which made the job in hand even more difficult. His suit was a mosaic of various stains, some he remembered their origin and some were a total mystery to him. His shirt hung out of his trousers as it always did after driving for more than five minutes. His tie was coiled like a dead baby snake on the back seat. Although it was a medium sized family saloon his bulk overhung the drivers seat by a good margin, he always had difficulty locating the handbrake. The stench of his suit mixed with an assorted array of body odours filled the car but Jon Treadwarton didn’t notice. The windows were shut tight, the heater was on full and the wipers had just begun to bat away the first huge blobs of rain, mixing and stirring them with the green, yellow and blue blood of a hundred flattened windscreen insects. Visibility would improve when that damn cloud decided to burst …………………

His spot burst first and now his rear view mirror was of no more use to him. His first reaction was to yell, then he screamed in delight at the release and sheer relief. He wiped a tide of sweat from his brow and over his bald head and he felt it travel down the back of his neck, then his back until it reached the base of his spine, to then spread out in the seat of his pants. Jon Treadwarton was now a happy man as he grabbed the steering wheel with one hand and flicked the wipers onto full power. Now the insect mush was made worse, he could hardly see at all and it was in the last nano second that he swerved to avoid a car parked in the lane with it’s hazards flashing. He didn’t quite miss it, as the opposing wing mirrors did a high five, he caught a glimpse of his mirror taking flight. He wasn’t unduly bothered, he never used that mirror, his skills had avoided major impact and nothing so trivial was going to stop Mr Jon Treadwarton being a happy, dappy, wappy man. No Sir!!!

At that moment a billion, zillion tons of rainwater dropped and Jon Treadwarton dropped one more foul smell into the already thickening broth of odours.

Emma Bluebird stood in the lane under a mighty oak cursing at the top of her voice but even she could not hear her profanities above the racket of this deluge. Standing under the tree provided no more shelter than standing in the middle of a field, it was down to pure human instinctive behaviour. She was cursing Donald Bluebird for his bloody smug, warm and dry life. She didn’t curse her children, she never gave them a thought, she never did. Gone, didn’t want them, couldn’t have them, so forget them and live pleasant thoughts, however forced.

The weight of water in the brim of her hat had pushed it down over her eyes; she tore it off and threw it into the rain.  It flew well under the circumstances, like a UFO, powered by a hatfull of swear words. Hair like rat’s tails clung to her neck and face.  To all intents and purposes it looked like she was sobbing her heart out, but not our Emma. The curses flowed like a bursting river and Don was the main target.  She included God a couple of times for pulling the plug from His damned bath. Surely he could have had a sneaky look below to make sure she’d reached adequate shelter before reaching for the plug. But OH NO!! She was just an insect to him, destined for someone’s windscreen, “Well, thank you God, thank you very, very much!”

She couldn’t bat this one away but as long as she had Mr. Donald (Trump) Bluebird to curse then she would survive to turn her back on what was to come.  That will be much worse, oh she knew that alright because Sadie Newhaven had told her so, only yesterday.

Yesterday Emma paid her regular Sunday morning visit to Sadie. Sadie was Emma's age, carrying a trophy of a failed marriage behind her but no kids. Unlike Emma, she needed to work to survive but she didn’t work, she told fortunes instead, at £60 for thirty minutes. She was expensive but didn’t need to advertise and was renowned for being very accurate. No tea leaves, tarots, crystal balls, pendulums, darkened rooms or trances just a quick shake of the hand. Her eyes would blink two or three times rapidly and then she would know you. And I mean know you, frighteningly know you, (like a pigeon but that’s a different story). As a bonus she would also know your future but only for the ensuing three days.

Sadie never pretended to know more than she did and in a way it made her clients quite scared. Her three day forecasts were so very accurate, down to minor and very personal details and however hard you tried to alter this predicted course of events, success was not an option.

Sadie and Emma lived in the same road, had known each other for three years and were best friends, so Emma only had to pay £30 per monthly forecast. As it was always a three day prediction sometimes she would go more often, especially when on the verge of decision making circumstances effecting the immediate future. Sadie was a no holds barred forecaster, good future, bad future, death, illness, lottery win, pregnancy, murder – all was told to the client in a very cool and professional manner. Some clients never returned after the first visit. Emma was exceptional, she always wanted to know whether she should carry her imaginary bat. Forewarned is forearmed as they say.

“Well at least Don was left with the stigma and stain of the kids; neither of us
wanted them.” Emma's thoughts then zapped back again, to yesterday.

As Sadie opened the door, she shook Emma’s hand, gave her a hug and a kiss on the cheek and welcomed her in. Tea was poured in the conservatory and immediately Sadie told Emma what would happen to her the following day.

“Beware, Emma, of tomorrow, for it could be the worst if not the last day of your life. You will be dressed as scruffily as you normally are, probably a long hippy type dress, maybe cut off jeans and your ‘same day’ tee shirt and at some point, you will nearly drown. In fact it is very probable you will drown and if you do, consider yourself lucky.”

“I know your husband’s name is Don, well Don is sick of you sucking him dry of his money, especially as you left the kids with him, so he’s paid someone to kill you. The date for this contract is tomorrow and the time is around mid day. You will die under the blows of a hammer.”

Emma listened, she was very focused, took it all in and was already preparing, she realised even her biggest imaginary bat was no good for this one. But she would beat it if she damn well could. Tomorrow she had an appointment with her doctor whose surgery was in a nearby village.

Tomorrow she left in good time for her appointment, dressed in her Sunday best.

In fact Jon Treadwarton dropped several more distinctive odours in the following
sixty seconds. He couldn’t see a damned thing. The wipers were useless. He
drove totally blind for a distance nobody else would contemplate but eventually
even happy, dappy Jon, had to stop.

And that’s when the pigeon/hat slapped the windscreen. “What the flippertygibbet was that!!?” he said out loud. Jon wasn’t prone to swearing, he left that to the slobs in life. Now, Jon was no detective, but that thing came downwards and he could see it was a hat because there it solemnly rested on his screen with wipers at half mast. Detective or not, he had to investigate and get wet. As he stepped into the deluge he was instantly hit by the foul smell of the countryside, he nearly swore but broke wind instead and said “Take that!” He retrieved the hat and after several minutes couldn’t for the life of him work out where the biddy thing had come from.

Then, at the age of 46 years, Jon Treadwarton saw his first ghost. A lady in white, whirling dervish, chanting blurred obscenities, stamping bare feet and she came at him with talons stretched for the kill. Jon slipped backwards onto the bonnet of his car and Emma was onto him like a slippery trout. Jon’s sheer bulk took the advantage and he put Emma’s hands behind her back, he slid off the bonnet and shoved her into his car via the passenger door. He snagged the sleeve of his suit on the jagged remains of his wing mirror and said, “Oh whoopy doopy do! God bless you Ma'am, I thank you.”

He fell into his side of the car, started the engine to restart the heater and shouted above the cacophony of nature, “Look if you want trouble lady, then you are
welcome to get back out into this falling ocean.  If you want help, then I’m your
man. Jon Treadwarton's the name, professional killer.”

That’s when our Emma used her bat but it wasn’t imaginary, it was a baseball bat, it had been hidden beneath her left arm, and it made contact with Jon’s skull with a resounding thud and splat. Jon was quite taken aback by this unexpected reaction and momentarily he left the real world. When he returned a second later, he opened his door, snatched the bat from Emma’s grasp, and slung it into the hedgerow.

God realised his mistake, too late, but he replaced his bath plug anyway and the rain stopped immediately. And there was quiet. Hush. Stillness. Irregular dripping from nearby trees. Jon’s door still hung open, as did Jon’s mouth, as did Emma’s mouth. Then Emma’s mouth said, “What’s that Godawfull stink in here?”

“It’s the flibberty countryside smells.” Said Jon on automatic.

There was a stretched silence interrupted by Jon, “OK look, I passed your car, I take it you broke down. You’re OK with me girl, I’m not a killer, that was a joke, I’m a reporter. Now, I’ll take you where you want to go, as long it’s the way I’m going.”

Emma accepted his offer, there was little option, and if this jerk was going to kill her, then so be it and ‘good work Sadie.’ The phone box she thought she had
seen earlier did not materialise, they must have missed it, hedgerows, trees and
fields charged by, then they spotted a sign indicating a small country garage,
“Sadie never mentioned this.”

Emma struggled out of the car before Jon could undo his seatbelt and in no time at all, she was explaining about her car breaking down and where she had to leave it, to the boy who had emerged from the garage office. The boy, Luke Loseworthy, was twenty four years of age and had clear memories of his Mum running off with a lesbian and last year, his wife running off to marry his brother. His Dad would remain in prison for many years to come.

What Luke had been told about Emma appeared to be right. Luke Loseworthy hadn’t paid any attention to her rantings about her car breaking down. All Luke was concerned about was that the car should have stopped a lot closer to the garage. Now he has a witness to contend with. Emma was back at the car, yelling obscenities at the fat witness/driver.

Luke strode up behind her unnoticed and carefully took aim with his hammer………

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