Sunday 23 June 2024

Sunday Serial, 280 x 70, 22 The Trouble with Small Towns 18 December 2018, by Gill James, cold tea

It's really peaceful here. Everything pretty well closes by 6.00 p.m. and you barely notice the rush hour. There are never queues at the supermarket, not even just before Christmas. The air is fresh and you can really breathe. And everyone knows everyone else. Folk look after each other.

So it was a bit of a shock when the Smithins had both of their cars stolen.

"Just be thankful that they didn't hurt you," the local policeman said. The conversation continued that night at the pub, because PC Winkworth happens to be the Smithins' neighbour.

It was outsiders, opportunists. Nobody who lived in the town would contemplate such an act. But what about the Jacksons' cat? That was really nasty. Poisoned, the vet had said. No doubt by someone who knew them and had a grudge. Who would think such a thing could happen? Someone knew exactly when Tibbles would be fed. They'd got into the house and doctored his food. Who would contemplate such a thing? 

Then there was Miss Tailor's washing. Slashed to pieces on a Saturday afternoon. Sheets ripped through, dog pooh smeared into her underwear and pig’s blood, they established after analysis, thrown over her fancy silk blouses.

When things like this happen in small towns you start suspecting the people you've been mates with for years.

So, I'm leaving. Yes, okay, so then they'll guess it was me. The newcomer. It makes me laugh just how easy it was. How much they all welcomed me and trusted me.  But they'll never find me.  The pay-out for the cars means I can lay low for decades.   You see, everybody tells you all of their secrets here.      


About the author

Gill James is published by The Red Telephone, Butterfly and Chapeltown. 

She edits CafeLit and writes for the online community news magazine: Talking About My Generation.

She is a Lecturer in Creative Writing and has an MA in Writing for Children and PhD in Creative and Critical Writing.   

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