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We all need a place of quiet
To heal our wounded Heart.
A place that no one else
But us can hold in time.
Where the ones we love
Who've gone before.
Who's presence we still mourn
Can call our name
And Visit for a while.
Hold my hand I'm here
Beside you. Dry your tears
Let me remind you,
Of the times we had together
You and I.
Of the love you gave so freely
Of your time you shared to cheer me,
Hold my hand
And let us sit here for a while.

At 'Luxury Homes For Less,' Tarquin Dubois locked his office door, picked up his briefcase and went over to his secretary Cathy Jackson's desk. 'Don't work too hard, darling,' he smiled as he caressed her neck, 'but remember, I must have those e-mails sent before you leave. See you in the morning.' He blew her a kiss, checked his hair in the wall-mirror and opened the outer door.

'Tarquin,' she called, 'you promised to discuss our trip to Bali tonight over dinner, I was going to bring a Chinese and some wine.'

Tarquin hesitated, 'We'll have to do it some other time sweetie; I'm meeting someone for business tonight.'

Cathy stood up, 'That's not good enough, Tarquin, and this is the third time you've put me off. I'm leaving. Find yourself another dogsbody to do your dirty work and share your bed when it suits you.'

Tarquin close the door and walk slowly back to Cathy's desk, 'listen, Babe, I don't want you to leave, you know I value your work and we don't want anyone else knowing our business do we? It isn't as if I don't pay you well enough to keep that pretty little mouth of yours shut.'

Cathy snatched her handbag off the chair and began to put her jacket on. Tarquin sighed, 'Ok, I'll be home about 9:30, come round then and we'll talk about Bali and if you're a good girl, how about staying for breakfast? Here,' he threw a key at her, 'let yourself in and get the wine ready.' Before Cathy had time to rush round her desk to embrace him, he slipped through the door and hurried to his car.

On the outskirts of town, detective Mohammed Ali was standing in his dining room with his friend Larry Spiggot, a well-known structural engineer. The plasterboard had been removed from the ceiling and they were staring into the roof space. 'Look at the huge gaps in those roof trusses.' Larry exclaimed, 'It's a wonder the whole lot hasn't come down.'

Ali turned to face him, 'That's not the only thing though is it? What about the lack of any under-pinning under the house? I may as well get this whole rotten, sub-standard catastrophe demolished.'

'Well,' Larry put his hands on his hips, 'It might be your cheapest option; believe me, I know that crook Tarquin Dubois, he gets away with it every time. I wish I'd known who you were getting to build your house.'

Ali slapped the building inspector's report on the table. 'I'm going to confront this bogan Tarquin almighty Dubois, tonight. He won't be so cocky when I turn up at his house.'

'I'll come with you for support.' said Larry, 'Two men are better than one.'

At nine o'clock that evening, wearing expensive French perfume and lingerie, Cathy use Tarquin's key to his apartment. The curtains were closed, table lamps cast an intimate glow in the lounge and bedroom, soft piano music played and there was the scent of a musky perfume in the air. Cathy went into the kitchen to put her bottle of Chardonnay in the fridge and found a bottle of champagne and two glasses already there. She assumed Tarquin had found time to get home before his meeting, to make it apartment welcoming for her. How thoughtful he was.

At 9:15, Cathy heard a key unlock the front door and she quickly draped herself along the sofa, closing eyes as she waited for his kiss. A female voice yelled, 'And who the hell are you?'

Cathy swung her feet to the floor and pulled her skirt down, 'I am Tarquin's girlfriend; Who the hell are you?'

'I'm Marda, Tarquin's wife.'

They heard the front door open and close. Marda strode into the entrance hall. Cathy heard Tarquin's voice, 'what are you doing here? You told me your your precious Daddy had persuaded you to stay on in Paris for another week.'

'Well, I changed my mind, so Daddy gave me a cheque to go to Italy next week instead.' They both moved into the lounge, ignoring Cathy, who was quickly buttoning up her blouse. The doorbell rang. 'This must be another of your floozies,' Marda shrieked, 'or was it going to be a menagerie for three?'

Tarquin sighed, 'You mean, ménage à trois, darling.'

Marda scowled, 'Whatever.'

Someone pounded on the door as Marda ran to answer it. Tarquin was pushing Cathy's discarded 5-inch-heeled shoes into her hands as Mohammed Ali and Larry Spiggot pushed past Cathy and walked into the lounge.

When Marda's Daddy returned from Paris the next morning, he helped her to hide the bloodstained carpet under the heavy sofa.

'Oh, Daddy,' she cooed, 'you are so clever. You take care of everything.'

'Not clever,' he replied, 'just rich enough to take care of my little girl's mistakes.'

Driving home on a busy highway I experienced a sense of total panic. Much to my horror, emerging from behind the sunvisor was a colossal huntsman spider looking at me with beady eyes. His furry legs were twitching - would he decide to jump?

I don't know how I managed to think what to do next. It seemed like forever, but I managed to pull over eventually and without causing a most horrible accident. I jumped out of the car and the spider jumped as well, onto the floor via the steering wheel. I don't know if he hopped out of the car, so he could be hiding under the front seat. The worst part was not knowing.

I had a very creepy feeling all the away home, thinking of the spider. Do spiders think? If so, what was he planning and what were his intentions? It must be a male spider with the title "huntsman." Was he aggressive? They can bite. He could be at this very moment planning his next move. I'm praying that he may be feeling harassed, a hesitant huntsman spider and simply scared of me. Hopefully, I could be, in his eyes, harassed, a hesitant human and not the "monster" who kidnapped him!

In the gloom of the cave, lit by fat-soaked burning moss, the skin-clad scribe draws on the wall with a finger dipped in ochre. He sketches the beasts he has hunted, telling of the deeds of his tribe.

In the gloom of the hut, lit by a burning taper, the leather-clad scribe presses a reed into the soft clay. He pokes and prods the brown tablet, telling of the victories of his king.

In the gloom of the tomb, lit by a burning torch, the cotton-clad scribe paints with a small brush many coloured pictograms on the wall. He describes the feats of the Pharaoh.

In the gloom of the small room in the palace, lit by a single burning lantern, the silk-clad scribe skilfully draws the characters in black, black ink on the thin rice paper. He records with artistry the triumphs of the Emperor.

In the gloom of a tablinum, lit by an array of burning oil lamps, the linen-clad slave scribe scratches in wax with a silver stylus. Using Latin letters, he writes at his master's dictation the history of the Legions.

In the gloom of the monastery cell, lit by a burning candle, the wool-clad scribe writes with quill and oak gall ink on smooth white vellum. He copies ancient texts telling of the history of the Israelites.

In the gloom of the Boeing 727, lit by low wattage fluorescent lamps, the Savile Row-clad scribe dabs with his forefinger at the screen of his palmtop. He writes in electronic ink on a billion pixels an update on his Facebook page.

Frank Brown ©

Grandma was ever so happy to have her two favourite grandsons, Tommy 10 and Jimmy 9, staying with her for the weekend. Those boys were growing fast and could eat like navvies, real hungry navvies. And how those boys loved meat and how Grandma indulged them, in fact, fed them nothing but meat.

"They are growing boys and what does it matter if I overfeed them on meat for a couple of days. When they get home they will eat a normal diet again."

It was Sunday morning and lamb chops and pork sausages were sizzling away. As she began frying a pan of bacon she recalled that yesterday at the barbecue they had eaten six steaks, several drum-sticks and ten loin chops which they fairly ripped apart with their teeth and then munched the bones. And at dinner last night they demolished two roast chickens and a giant meat pie. Good healthy food for that pair of tigers, she thought, and was pleased to recall they hated McDonalds and detested pizzas. But where did they manage to put all that they ate?

She turned the bacon in the frying pan and then went up the passage to rouse the boys. As she approached their bedroom door she heard them talking. Curious as to what they were discussing she listened and this is what she heard:

"Let's eat Grandma," said Tommy.
"Yes, I'm really, really hungry. Let's eat Grandma right now," said Jimmy.

Grandma was profoundly shocked and fled in fear to the kitchen where she flopped into a chair and sat staring up the passage toward the boys' room.

Moments later, the boys appeared.

"I'm really really hungry," said Jimmy.
"I'm starving," said Tommy, "I want something to eat."

The boys approached Grandma, one either side, smiling and with their white fangs flashing. As they closed in she shut her eyes and prepared to meet her doom.

Simultaneously, both boys kissed her on the cheek, and both said "Good morning, Grandma. What's for breakfast?"

The relief Grandma felt was such a surprise that she was unable to speak but it made little difference as those two hungry boys were already greedily eyeing the meat and sniffing its delicious aroma.

After a minute or so Grandma felt courageous enough to ask a question, "What have you boys been doing?"

Tommy replied, "We love those Writers Workshop stories you read to us, Grandma, so we are writing a story to read to you."

"Yes," said Jimmy, "It's about the barbecue we had yesterday. But we had a problem working out where to put the commas in a tricky bit of the story. Maybe you can check that we have put them in the right places."

"What's the tricky bit, Jimmy?" asked Grandma.

"Tommy said, 'Let's eat, Grandma.' and I said 'Yes, I'm really, really hungry. Let's eat, Grandma, right now.'"

"It's sounds correct, but let me see what you have written down."

Grandma read the text and then said, "You got the commas exactly right in both those sentences. Would you please read the next sentence to me?"

Tommy took the sheet and read, "'Grandma said, 'I want to eat, too, boys.'"

"Ah," said Grandma, "there you've made a big mistake. What I said doesn't have any commas. Read it again, Tommy, but without the commas."

Tommy read, "'Grandma said, 'I want to eat too boys.'

Tommy and Jimmy collided at the kitchen door in their haste to escape, but at least they had learned something from Grandma's punctuation lesson. Grandma's pleading, however, for them to "Come back and have your breakfast!" had no effect whatsoever.

The tap kept on dripping.

He gripped the handle with both hands and wrenched clockwise.

The tap kept on dripping.

Perlonk, perlonk, perlonk, every 2.35 seconds, into the laundry's stainless steel trough the tap kept on dripping.

It annoyed him, so he put a dishcloth in the trough to dampen the noise.

The cloth got dampened too.

It annoyed him, but he had no knowledge on how taps worked and no tools to fix it even if he had.

A plumber would cost a lot of money for probably a few minute's work.

That annoyed him.

He went to the library and found a home handyman book that showed how a tap worked and how to fix problems.

He took it home and made notes.

The tap kept on dripping.

He went to the hardware shop with a shopping list and looked for the plumbing section.

There he found the tools and parts, but the selection was large and he was not sure which to buy.

That annoyed him.

He bought the top priced tools as he did not trust cheap ones.

He bought a range of different washers as he was unsure which type would be needed.

The bill was for many dollars but still cheaper than a plumber.

At home he prepared to mend the tap.

First turn of the mains supply.

He could not find the stopcock,

That annoyed him.

He phoned the council and was told a man would come and locate the stopcock next week.

That annoyed him.

The tap kept on dripping.

The man from the council eventually came and poked around for ages before he found the stopcock.

The man cleared away the weeds and dug into the dirt to reveal the rusty device and tried to turn it off.

The thing was jammed and so the man told him he would have to come back another day and replace the valve

That annoyed him.

The tap kept dripping.

Another day finally came and two council workers replaced the faulty stopcock.

At last he was ready to repair the dripping tap.

He turned off the mains supply.

He removed the top of the tap and extracted the jumper and its mangled washer.

He replaced the washer with one from his newly bought collection.

He reassembled the tap.

He turned on the mains.

The tap kept on dripping.

He was very annoyed.

He went back to the handyman book and read some more.

The valve seat was probably damaged because of the damaged washer and the extra pressure exerted to stop the tap dripping.

It could be fixed by using a special tool.

He went back to the hardware store and bought the tool.

He bought a tube of lubricant as an afterthought.

The items cost a lot of dollars but it was still cheaper than getting in the plumber.

He went home and prepared to fix the problem.

He turned off the mains.

He dismantled the tap.

He set the special tool according to the instructions and cleaned up the valve seat.

He replaced the new washer with another from his supply in case it had been damaged by the damaged valve seat.

He applied the lubricant to all the threads in the tap and reassembled the tap.

He turned on the main supply stopcock.

The tap resumed dripping.

The book had advised that some metal turnings from the seat may have been caught under the washer.

The cure was to run the tap hard for a few minutes to clear the metal shreds.

He tried to turn the handle.

Nothing moved.

The tap kept on dripping.

He hit the tap with his fist.

The tap kept on dripping.

He hit the tap with his shoe.

The tap kept on dripping.

He knocked the tube of lubricant onto the floor while struggling with the recalcitrant turncock.

It wasn't lubricant; it was Lock-Tite, a superbly strong metal to metal glue.

The tap kept on dripping.

Frank Brown ©

Molly poured out a cup of tea and carried it to the table. As usual, she was talking out loud to herself as she did when at home alone. Not that she stopped talking when somebody was there. She just did not like silence, and there was a lot of silence in her brain. But she was a kindly soul and always tried to please. She sat down and sipped her tea for a few seconds and then reached across the table. "Here's the paper, now let's see what is in the "To Sell" section. Bikes, cots, golf sets, lounges. What's this? Manchester United doona cover, unopened and only $80. I saw one of those in Spotlight last week and it was about $120. Lovely red colour. It would go a treat with the Ming Blue walls. I think that's the football team Fred likes. Loves his football he does. Watches all those programs on SBS. Daft game I reckon, but he likes it. Now what is that phone number? I think I will give them a call. Better do it straight away. That's a good price." She rose, fetched the phone back to the table and dialled the number printed in the ad. "Hello. I saw your ad in the paper for a doona cover. Have you sold it yet? No, oh that's good. Could I have a look at it? Thank you. Where do you live? Oh, I know that street. I used to have a friend that lived there. Do you know Lucy Adams? No! Oh never mind. Can I come round today? Oh good. Will two o'clock be OK? Right, see you then." She put the phone down and finished drinking her tea.

At three o'clock she came home carrying a bulky package and humming to herself happily. Not only had she got the cover, but she had offered $70 and got it for $75. She was pleased with herself. Not waiting to take of her coat she went straight into the bedroom and unpacked the bright red cover and laid it across the bed. Lovely. Just the way she had imagined it. The red went so well with the blue wall and Jungle green curtains.

At six on the dot Fred walked in. "Have a good day dear?" "Not bad" he grunted and plonked down in his chair. He reached for the TV remote and turned on the set, switching to the sports channel. Molly brought him a cup of tea, quietly chatting about nothing and deliberately not mentioning the doona cover. It would be a surprise.

At ten, Fred got up and went off to the bathroom to get ready for bed. Molly waited eagerly for his reaction when he entered the bedroom. Two minutes later she got it. "What the blue, bleeding blazes is that rag doing on my bed" he roared. "It's a new cover for the doona. Don't you like it" she asked, amazement all over her face. "Like it! Like it! You're as daft as a brush, you silly woman. Me, sleep under that? You have got to be joking!" "But it was a bargain" "I don't care if they paid you to take it out of the shop. Take it off and get rid of it. Now!" Molly moved to comply. Fred was normally a pretty placid type and would never do more than raise his voice a little when annoyed. This outburst was so unlike him. "I'm sorry. I thought you would like it with you liking football so much. I don't want to throw it away. Don't you know anybody that would like it?" "Me. Give anything to a Manchester fan. Wouldn't give one of them the time of day" "But I thought it was the team you liked, the ones with the red pullovers" "You dim wit! I'm an Arsenal fan. The Gunners! Always have been, just like my dad. I wouldn't bother with a flamin' northern bunch. I'd rather barrack for Chelsea or Crystal Palace" "I'm sorry love. I thought it would be such a nice surprise," and she began carefully folding up the offending cloth. In an attempt to calm Fred down she changed the subject "I saw a lovely program this morning" "Oh yeah" said Fred, realising he had gone a bit far, but unwilling to apologise, "What was it?" "It was about the Beckhams and their and their lovely home." Fred turned white and started breathing heavily.

Frank Brown ©