Friday, 16 December 2016

Cecily Looking for Love at Cyril's Creek Parts Eight and Nine

Chapter Eight
That night, their work all done, both men retired to rest from their exertions. Cecily sat in the lounge with her employer, darning onion nets whilst Tarquin had made his way to the guest hammock for a snooze.
Josiah appeared to be dozing upside down in his armchair. However, he was feeling more awake than ever. Partly he was excited about designing and building something new. Partly, he was slightly nervous in case an unsupervised peanut shell fell on his head if he actually slept. Partly, he worried if the speaking clock was in this evening.
But mostly he was worried about Cecily. She had not reacted as favourably as he had hoped to his kind, generous assistance of the glider pilot. Instead, she had gone from being off hand with him initially, then ignoring all he said until finally becoming cool and distant. Eventually, though, he had relented and let her come back into the main house again; she virtually leapt up the stairs from the freezing cellar. Now he was brooding. He shuffled around on the nest and thought about why Cecily had reacted this way. He had hoped to capture her love but instead he was being treated like a criminal. He suspected that her head had been turned by Tarquin and that her attention was focused upon him.  What did that horrid little, handsome, brave, eligible, personable, charismatic and broad-shouldered man have that he didn’t?
He was shaken from his angry reverie by a peevish voice from the sofa.
“I know you are awake!”
“I wasn’t sure you were still talking to me,” he muttered.
“I am not,” she answered, “I am just letting you know that I know you are awake.”
He blurted “I know that you know that I know that you know that I know that you are awake! “
There was a silence. It was a terrible silence which showed nothing but disdain and malevolence and ingratitude and anger to the wider world. So terrible was it that it started and mobilised a popular political movement which involved the creation of some unsightly posters, a frightening slogan and a rather catchy Party anthem. It mastered public oration and held a mass rally right there on the hearth rug. Finally, the silence noiselessly announced that it was going to organise a sham election then swept from the room.
During the silence, Josiah had realised that he had spoken complete nonsense and shame had spread through him like a fire through a petrol-sodden match and firework factory.
"I hoped you would feel warmer towards me if I helped Tarquin," he grizzled.
"That's just it," she screeched. "You are so feckless..."
"Feckless! Look it up! You are so feckless that you would rather ride another man's coat tails to glory than find your own way there. You wonder why I am not attracted to you, yet you think that just doing something simple for someone that I quite fancy will turn my head. You need to man up. You know, make something of your life. "
Grunting, he pulled a large block of granite into the centre of the room. He erected a pair of steps and donned a smock. Pausing only to grab a hammer and bolster, he clambered the steps.
"You know I am trying to become a sculptor," he whined. Small chips of granite pattered to the floor as he tapped away ineffectually. Attempting to create more of an effect, he took a mighty swing and dropped both tools with a crash.
"It's an inspiration," yawned Cecily, whilst Josiah tumbled inelegantly back to the floor.
Getting back up, he fixed her with a scornful gaze.
“Come with us, then. Join us tomorrow morning for the launch. You will see then the love and perspiration I have put into making his dream come true. Why did I want to do that? “
In his question there was implied an answer. Suddenly, Cecily understood. Her face softened, all anger gone.
“It was for me, wasn’t it?” she asked, a sob in her voice.
Thinking quickly, Josiah thought better of his original and truthful answer about being paid and wanting to see the back of Tarquin. Instead, he thought of a cleverer and more cunning answer.
“Yes, anything that makes you feel happy, then I will do it for you.”
She smiled and sighed, although that just looked like she was suffering from indigestion.
“Say that you will come to the launch,” he begged.
“Of course I will,” she whispered.
“You what?“ he asked her.
“I said ‘Of course I will’!” she bellowed.
“Well, why did you whisper?“ he enquired.
“Him!” she screeched, pointing to an agent from the Maltese Secret Service, who was dressed in dark clothing and was crouched behind the sideboard that held all the spare table football equipment. The shadows fell just so, it was hard for Josiah to see the spy. Eventually, he discerned a shadowy figure.
“Who charcoaled 35.7 on that wall?” he asked, indignantly.
“No! Look to the right a bit!” Cecily told him rolling her eyes and juggling a trio of watering cans.
He looked and there! He could make something out.
“I can see a bunny!” he trilled with innocent joy. “Look, if you just focus on the shadow from the curtain and the flower, the scroll and the fern leaf from the wallpaper design, then let your eyes go sort of swimmy… “
“I need you to concentrate, “she huffed.
“Please don’t, I hate it when you huff. “
A man dressed all in black, well not all in black, but – let’s put it this way, his visible garments were black- stood up rather impatiently.
“Stop looking! I am here, just spying on someone in a film which is showing in a multiplex in Droitwich. Hide somewhere no-one would look they said. So, I chose this story but now my cover is blown and Gozo will take over the world. “
He left rather angrily.
Cecily and Josiah stood, neither knowing what to say for several moments.
“How many people got the Gozo joke, do you think? “
Josiah rubbed her shoulder, trying to reassure her.
“Not many, dear girl. Try not to distress yourself. “
Chapter Nine
The mist clung to the fields near to Cyril's Creek. It was early in the morning, the mist had been out all night but it was ok, there was no work for it later today. Trying to whisk it away, the sun was wheezing into the sky, wondering if there wasn't some easier way which no-one had told it about. There was no breeze, it was going to be a perfect day for gliding. 
Deep in the mist, the sound of clanking, banging and sawing were not to be heard. You should have been here a few minutes ago, the countryside air had been filled with those sounds then. Now, there was just a couple of men's voices going to and forth as they obviously made minor adjustments to a glider launcher. 
Let's not concentrate on them. 
Instead let's go to the reedbeds. I hope you have some suitable footwear on. Here, amidst the waving stems, an angry and jealous being looked out at the proceedings. The dark eyes had focused on the man in the leather flying goggles for some time, narrowing with passionate and jealous rage. Here was the rival for the beautiful girl's affections. Behind the eyes, slitted in hate, the mind worked overtime about what to do now. Attack? Accuse? Advertise? Ok, not the last one-stuck on the 'A' theme a bit there. Just as it looked as though the red rage would take over, the watcher noticed two things. The first was that the rival appeared to be sitting in the funny wooden thing that had fallen to the floor, bringing him to the lovely girl's attention. That had to be a good thing, maybe there was no need to act. 
Secondly, there was rather a plump frog nearby, just by a reed. 
The secret watcher chose to do nothing about the man. 
No sooner had this resolution been reached, then the voice of Cecily came through the mist seeking direction. Although the words weren't clear, the anxiety and tension were clear in her voice. Prickles of concern ran down the rather long neck of her concealed admirer. Yes, there was her grey outline. Was there any need to do anything? No, not just yet. Sit and wait, that was best. That was easy. Yes, sit and wait was what the watcher did best. 
The eyes retreated back into the reeds. 
Cecily finally found her way to where Josiah and Tarquin had been putting up the glider and the massive slingshot. Just as Cecily arrived by their sides, so the mist decided that enough was enough, stretched, yawned and drifted away to bed. Once back in its flat, a spacious studio affair on the South Bank of the River Thames, it set its alarm. Feeling somewhat insubstantial and rather grey, it resolved to be earlier to bed for a couple of days. Then, after gratefully slurping the cup of tea it had bought from Vlad's  Tea and Stake stall, it settled down to sleep. 
The effect of the mist leaving was that it encouraged the sun to make an effort. Its warm rays caught  the orange paintwork of the frankly silly wingless glider and the whole mechanism became clear. 
"Why have you brought an almond croissant out here?" Cecily asked. 
"No! It's the glider..." Josiah's anguished voice broke off in frustration. 
Whilst Josiah was looking on the floor, crawling about on his hands and knees, Tarquin led Cecily on a tour of the construction. 
"This is, er, the front end. Here in the middle is where, well, I shall sit here and pilot. And this is the back end."  
He went on to point out the quince peeler, bottle rinser and mountain proximity alarm. The last was a terrified looking porcupine whose nerves were not what they had once been and tended to panic at anything untoward. He had been given the name Wilhelm. Nobody knew why. 
At last, his voice restored, Josiah stood back up. 
"The weather is perfect, let's set up a trial flight." 
"Rightho!" brayed Tarquin. 
He grabbed  Cecily by her shoulders. Looking her in the  eyes, noble devotion written across  his face, mouth set stern and heroic. 
"Please wait for me, Cecily," he whispered. 
"You what?" She enquired irritably, "I can't understand you with your mouth all stern like that." 
"I said 'I rather enjoy a soft, luxurious fudge'." 
"Are you sure that's what you said last time?" 
He laughed condescendingly, "Yes, it's just no-one, not even the author, could really hear me. Now then, I must be away!" 
The two men discussed the flight path, swivelling the  launcher to and fro until they were  satisfied  with the  direction. In the  end,  bearing  in mind the direction of the wind as well as a faint sound of a mischievous pile of macaroni due East, they decided upon a flight path that  they could agree on. Out over the lake,  across the nearby open-air gasworks until coming to rest  just before the nearly nearby National Clam-Racing Stadium. 
As he wound the propulsion unit, Josiah muttered “Mustn’t overdo this.  Going over the  stadium with those updraughts and them thermals could be fatal. I should have added a vest guard to the port side.” 
He finished winding, licked his finger and held it up to the breeze. From the  feel of the air, there was definitely a breeze. 
Meanwhile, Cecily and Tarquin were talking. 
“I am ashamed, my lovely Cecily. I have not been completely honest with you. “ 
“In which way? “ the object of  his  affections and his binoculars enquired earnestly,  shredding a tractor tyre with anxiety and her bear hands. 
“I wasn’t commenting on my love of fudge at all earlier. Instead,” he continued meekly, “I asked you to wait. I  should love it if you would.” 
Ugh, what a despicable bit  of  dialogue. Whilst we reel from it and Josiah tests the wind and the two young things share noble thoughts which I  would rather saw my fingers off than record, something is happening to the launcher. A gangly figure, unseen, is tampering. It loved a good tamper, it hadn’t had a tamp for weeks. The figure thought guiltily about the  promises it had made at the last session of Tamperer and Meddlers Anonymous but pressed on anyway,  any way.  
It was a lapse of  a promise that would change all their socks. Oh, and their lives, but the sock bit was more dramatic. Remember the socks, dear reader, remember the socks…

Friday, 9 December 2016

Cecily: Looking for Love at Cyril's Creek- Part Seven

Chapter Seven

'So', Josiah ruminated, 'this is work.' 
Then he wondered if what he was doing was actually ruminating. With a start of panic, he fretted about whether ruminating was only something cows did. He'd better stop ruminating, he decided, or tomorrow someone would only want to milk him. He didn't feel there was much he could add to the dairy industry-nor would he want to after their refusal to market his exciting cracker flavoured cheese. It was a disastrous road to travel along, this ruminating. He decided to reflect wryly.
'So,' Josiah reflected wryly, 'this is work.' 
He put down the mirror and wryly went home.
There he was, back at the drawing board. On his sloped desk, being overseen by an obnoxious anglepoise lamp, he was drafting a design for the first time in a long time. He concentrated hard, drawing for all he was worth. The page filled with intricate figures, each adding to an original idea, expounding and expanding. He added more information using notes, tiny text in neat boxes. So engrossed was he that he did not notice Tarquin sneaking in behind him. 
"Are you working on the design, old thing?" the airman brayed in his ear.
Despite Josiah trying to cover up the piece of paper, he saw what was being drawn.
"This is a comic strip about a character called Mr Anglegrinder!" Tarquin's voice grew stern. "I think you were asked to design a new glider, weren't you?"
The inventor slumped into his seat.
"What have you got to say for yourself?" asked Tarquin.
Josiah muttered "Sorry, didn't mean to... Sort of lost concentration..."
"Well, I think you need to start concentrating more, don't you?" Tarquin scolded.
Tarquin allowed his voice to brighten. 
"I should think so. Now draw a glider and you can have a treat for tea."
Newly enthused, Josiah stripped the board of its defiled sheet of A2 paper and carefully placed a new one on there. He bent over it, all intent on his task. Nodding in silent and somewhat grumpy approval, his guest paced across to the door. Looking round one last time to make sure that Josiah had stuck to his task, he left the room. 
It was about an hour later when he returned to see what progress had been made. The design that Josiah had come up with was stunning. Picking himself off the floor, Tarquin wondered why he hadn't noticed the large, hard prototype right in front of him as he had come into the room. Looking closer, he realised it was, without doubt, one of the largest catapults that had ever been seen. 
"My word..." he breathed in awe.
"Was that you being awed or are you just a bit puffed out?" Josiah asked.
Tarquin beamed "I am in awe. This is really marvellous. I will have the acceleration, the elevation, the navigation, the verification."
Josiah was impressed, he hadn't expected anyone to notice the red-hot branding iron attachment that would mark the glider as it left. The brand would burn the slogan 'This is a Josiah Hatstand product. All Rights Reserved. Do not use in deep space: this is not a spacecraft!' onto the  stern as the glider left the launching device. That was essential to avoid unlicensed copying, although he was not sure if he should haven also made sure that the glider was not mistaken for an almond croissant.
Still rubbing his head, Tarquin walked around the model slowly. On top  of  the  huge catapult  was the new and improved glider. Josiah had found  improving  it easy; put  it  back  together and paint it orange. But he had added some important parts too. The pilot was extremely impressed with what had been achieved. It was all there: a bucket for miscellaneous pieces of polystyrene, an electric light that flashed off, a complimentary air to air rissole and an in-flight magazine entitled ‘Doomed Flights Now’. Best of all, it still had no wings.
Impulsively, Tarquin grabbed a paintbrush and wrote the name of the glider on the side. It completely failed to show up. Paint! That was the answer! Trying  again, once the brush had been dipped into some paint, the name was written with a flourish once more. Still nothing
“If you use orange paint, It’s not going to show up,” Josiah explained patiently.
Finally, Tarquin found a clean brush and some white paint. He wrote his choice of name again.
‘Cecily’ stood out in bright and bold writing.
The silence between them deepened as it discovered Japanese poetry and an interest in philosophy. Eventually, the silence stood meaningfully staring into the middle distance before declaring noiselessly that it was going off to write a series of one-act, one person plays that would reveal the truth about life. It slipped from the room, deep in thought.
"I see," said Josiah warily.
"It's named after the woman who has stolen my heart," explained Tarquin.
"Why you..." Josiah snarled threateningly, before his expression softened slightly. "You were speaking metaphorically about your heart, weren't you?"
"Yes, yes of course."
"Ok, ok then. Right, where was I...? Oh yes. Why you..." Josiah advanced on Tarquin, his arms outstretched, murderous intent in his eyes.
Tarquin backed away. His steps backwards caused him to stumble up against a workbench. His fingers closed round a brace that had been lying on the workbench. Instinctively, he brought it up in front of him. 
Looking slightly embarrassed, Josiah took the brace and fitted it to his shoulder again. 
"That's eased the pain, thanks."
"Calmer?" Tarquin asked.
"Well, perhaps, I was being very angry with you-I deserved to feel pain" his erstwhile attacker said thoughtfully. "But it's mainly because I got hurt during a football match with my brothers. I never loved a present as much as I loved that ball the parents gave us shortly afterwards."
Together, they focused once more on the glider. Each man was lost in their dreams of the journey it would take them on and of the destinations they would reach. Both men had dreams of the glider flying. Both men had dreams of landing at Cecily's feet and claiming her heart. 

But only one man had dreams of a small marshmallow called Nigel who could tell the future.

Cecily: Looking for Love at Cyril's Creek-Part Six

Chapter Six

Tarquin and Josiah sat stiff and silent at the table whilst Cecily was busy cooking dinner for them all. Every time she perceived that Tarquin would not see them, she shot angry looks at her employer. She yearned for conversation to flow like she yearned for peace, love, tranquility and really well laundered net curtains. However, the ongoing sulky look suggested that her boss was not about to change his ways and become more sociable. She made a mental note to add his names to as many mailing lists as she could. Especially for firms that produced porcelain figurines; Josiah hated those.
Eventually, the intensity and frequency of her furious glares prompted him to begin a conversation.
“Tell me about your glider then,” he said with a sense of weariness and foreboding.
Tarquin cleared his throat, set up a slideshow and unleashed his laser pointer.
“We decided that the traditional glider was way too heavy,” he began, pointing at the relevant parts of the slides as he spoke. “Notice that the  effect of gravity will be to bring the craft  nearer to the ground.”
Josiah rolled his eyes slightly and impatiently crossed his legs. A look from Cecily settled him in his chair once more. Satisfied, she returned to doing something complicated with a pan of lentils. 
“Therefore, should we be able to reduce the mass, we could increase the time we are able to glide.”
Josiah nodded eagerly,  mainly because Cecily was looking pointedly at him. Her look was so pointed, her nose had an arrow drawn on it.
“Thus, we concluded, we should remove the wings in order to achieve this.”
“Have you got other people who help you?” Josiah asked tentatively.
“It’s funny you should mention that. I was always more keen on the no wings plan than the others in the team. I had Mac the engineer. Mac in charge of aeronautical stuff. Mac the navigational expert. And there was Hywel who didn’t say or do very much. He was in charge of the engine. Probably a bit of a mistake that one. So, anyway, I  was determined to push on with my plan but they all left me to it.”
He paused, the pain of the memory overwhelming him.
When he continued it was with a voice shaking with emotion.
“I think it was Mac who said ‘Let’s leave him to it lads. He’s nuts!’ Tell a lie, it was Mac who said that. So, I was on my own, finding ways to launch the glider single-handedly. Then I would have to learn how to find out what went wrong. And of course how to repair the glider. It was difficult, lonely even.”
Josiah felt strangely moved. It took quite a lot of insistent tapping on the elephant’s trunk to make it put him down. Back in his chair, he asked Tarquin what had happened on this particular day.
“I decided  that I should launch myself from a tree, which was what particularly drew me to your area. The trees near your home are especially towering. Then, hopefully, being so high up, I should be able to float and glide to a successful place to land. My dear old thing, landing was the only part that went to plan. And rather quickly at that. So, there I was, stunned and injured. Who should come to save me but this divine creature here.”
Cecily blushed but Tarquin reached into his pocket and produced a ladybird. 
“The poor spotted darling was not much of a help.”
Cecily splatted the lentils on some plates but made sure a fair amount went into Tarquin’s shoes. She shoved the plates gracelessly on the table. 
“Then Cecily came along, my guardian angel.”
It was as if a switch had been flicked.
“Put the lights back on and come here and eat your dinner,” Cecily sighed wearily.
Josiah did as she bade him,  he reilluminated the room and wandered back to his seat and slumped down.
With vengeance and punishment in her eyes but sugared treacle in her voice, Cecily asked Josiah sweetly “With your science and engineering background, surely you could help Tarquin, couldn’t you?”
“Oh, ok,” grumbled her boss and he grabbed the visitor’s knife and fork, cutting the food into chewable sized pieces. He sat down to resume eating his own meal; no sooner had he sat down than he was up again with the excitement of an amazing idea.
“I will help you!” he cried. “I could get the glider in the air and flying. After all, I am the man behind the E-Nail!”
Tarquin nodded, an impressed look on his face.
“Tell me more,” he smiled, inviting more from his host with raised eyebrows, gently wobbling ears and winking eyelids that said ‘Tell me more’ using semaphore.
“I also undiscovered the dinosaurs,” Josiah told the hapless pilot.
“The what?” Tarquin asked, perplexed.
Inside Josiah, the familiar feeling of turmoil arose. He never could get on with lentils. However, alongside that was the frustration that one of the greatest achievements of  his life was doomed to be unknown by everyone else. That was the thing about undiscovering an entire species; now they were undiscovered, no-one could remember what it was that had been undiscovered. The life of a genius rarely runs smoothly. Instead, it picks up a slight calf strain about twenty minutes in. 
“Forget that last one. The point was I am an award-winning scientist,” he said.
“Well, no, obviously not. Just a rather lovely statuette. Although, it would have been rather thrilling to have something to ring with gusto at the ceremony.”
They ate some more in contemplative silence. Cecily ate feeling  more relaxed and more able to savour her food. Next to her, Tarquin was so excited that he scarcely felt able to eat. His glider could be working any day. Of course, Josiah was excited too. If he could get Tarquin flying, then maybe, just maybe, he could win Cecily over and then, who knew? Perhaps the glider wouldn’t be the only thing to take off.
On Cecily’s plate, a lentil called Marcos became concerned about its neighbour. Harry hadn’t spoken or moved for ages. Fearfully, Marcos stretched out a hand and felt for a pulse.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Cecily: Looking for Love at Cyril's Creek -Part Five

Chapter Five

Bright lights danced across the face of the earth. They  came from an ominous, hanging spaceship which hovered above a sprawling city in the inky night sky. A throbbing hum echoed through the shining, deserted midnight streets as fierce lights strobed along the way length of the spaceship’s sides. Against the clouds, it was just possible to see the horrible weaponry available to those who manned the ship.
Inside the vessel, a giant robot stretched out a blood-red metal arm, bulky and functional. It flicked at icons on the screen before it and the hum changed volume and pitch. It was at the front of the bridge.  The room itself was a cramped octagon, full of blinking instruments and flippin’ computers. Behind the robot, in a large chair which was equipped with a massive range of buttons and switches, sat a green rather gelatinous lump. Every now and again it barked orders to the robot at the helm. After a few  moments, it oozed over a switch and a hood, like a giant welders mask, descended over the creature in the chair. From the virtual reality mask came indistinct sounds and faint flashes of light.
With a hum, the mask rose and the creature reached out to a microphone.
“First Officer Zrug, please come to the bridge,” it barked.
Moments later, a paler green blob slithered in.
“Ma’am?” Zrug enquired. 
“I have reached a conclusion, Zrug.”
“Is it to attack immediately?” Zrug responded, keenness evident in his voice.
“No, Zrug!” the captain rebuked her First Officer. “I have decided we must leave this place.”
The shock was evident on Zrug’s face was evident.
“Are their defences too great? Are the Galaxy Force on our tail?”
The  Captain hid her shame by looking into the Virtual Reality hood once more. When she spoke again it was almost inaudible.
“I am afraid we are in the wrong story.”
The ship zoomed away, back to the vast depths of space.
Meanwhile, Josiah Wigstand was trying to fully appreciate his eyelids. He was standing in the kitchen, repeatedly throwing flour into his face whilst keeping his eyes squeezed tightly closed. He was delighted every time he discovered that his nose and mouth were full of white powder but his eyes were as clear as day.
“Aren’t eyelids  amazing?” he enquired of the empty room.
Nothing replied.
Closing his eyes again, he threw another handful of self raising. Coughing and spluttering he opened his eyes again. Perfect vision once again! However, now he could see it was clear that he was no longer alone.
Cecily stood looking at him with surprise on her face. She  could  never  eat desserts without making a mess. This one looked like gooseberry surprise; it was full of raspberries. With her was a rather dashing looking man who Josiah took an instant dislike to. The stranger was smart, refined looking and obviously slightly injured.
Cecily helped him to a kitchen chair and gently encouraged him to sit down by unexpectedly sweeping his legs away from under him. She regarded him as he lay winded on the floor with great satisfaction and bundled Josiah into the other room. Once there, she took a magazine from the pile and held it threateningly above her boss’s head.
“What are you doing?” he asked.
“Checking to see if you had gone mad,” she replied.
“Me? Ow! What did you hit me for?”
“You asked if I was speaking about you,” Cecily replied. “You  have gone mad and are starting to imagine there are other people  here.”
He sighed.
“No, I meant that accusations of madness seemed to be a bit rich coming from someone who has brought a complete stranger home!”
“He’s hurt. He needed help. He broke his glider.”
Josiah gasped. Then, he turned his concentration away from remembering an icy bath he had once had and thought again about the woman he loved bringing a man he already resented back to his house.
“You have feelings for him!”
“Would that be so bad? At least he has ambitions, “ she spat. 
Josiah reached for a dusty typewriter that he kept handy on the sideboard. Sliding a sheet of yellowed paper into the roller, he began to type maniacally and manically.
“I just need time to finish my novel. You know that I am trying to learn to be a novelist,” he yelled over the clacks and tings.
Cecily leaned over and read the extract in front of  her.
“You need to improve your spelling. And grammar. And characterisation. And your signature for book signings. And you need a scarf. A writer needs a scarf.”
Tossing the typewriter to one side, Josiah stood up again.
“You’re babbling,” he said. “How do we know that we can trust this man?”
Cecily looked scathingly at him. In response, he donned  his ScatheBan sunglasses. Unperturbed, Cecily whistled with absolutely the same amount of scathingness. He put in his Scatheaway ear plugs. She was not beaten yet. He was.
“Ow! OK. Stop!” he sobbed.
Cecily explained that she was  just  going to tend to Tarquin’s injuries and make him a cup of tea. With that, she was gone. Josiah started to dry his eyes and let his sobs subside. He decided to go back into the kitchen  and to try to look grown up again in his darling Cecily’s eyes. 
Looking back, the choice of arriving on a hobby horse was definitely a mistake. Even with the excellent trot he performed, it was in no way a dignified entrance. When he got into the kitchen, puffing slightly, the stranger was sitting in a kitchen chair. He was puffing on a pipe, the acrid smoke filled the kitchen. 
“Sorry to intrude, old boy,” he brayed. “Had a bit of trouble with the damn plane.”
They looked at one another coldly. Rivalry was beginning to rear its head. 
“Nice horse!” Tarquin sneered.
“Spiffing pipe,” Josiah mimicked.
The atmosphere grew heavy but began a crash diet when Cecily came to the table with a drink for each of them. When the young lady turned back to the worktop, the atmosphere stuffed some sausage rolls and a few doughnuts before spending a week on salads when Cecily returned with biscuits. The jealousy bubbled and threatened to erupt underneath the veneer of a nice cup of tea.
Meanwhile, in the fridge, a piece of celery wilted gradually. 

But no-one noticed.

Cecily: Looking for Love at Cyril's Creek Part Four

Chapter Four
Cecily was alone again.  
The day was grey, which was ok, it was warm enough to play and she was out for her walk as usual. There was still a bounce to her step and her mood was buoyant as she made her way to the creek. As she walked past  the  terrible houses, the net curtains shook like doves in a storm. Her unfriendly and nosy neighbours watched her pass and made notes in the small books they kept to note who had passed and when. Later on, they would arrange meetings with each other to compare notes in one another's books but no-one would go to them. Instead, they would wait behind net curtains to write down who did attend (which was no-one). 
Her walk took her once again past the Henderson’s. Mr Henderson was out in the garden, polishing  some very long leather boots with an awe-inspiring heel. 
“Lovely day for it,” she called cheerily. 
Mr Henderson nodded eagerly, leaving a pause  as if  he wanted Cecily to  say  something  else. 
Lovely boots!” she continued, “I shall spend the rest of the day wondering how I should look if I were wearing them... 
Mr Henderson made a noise which was obviously agreement of some sort but oddly wordless. In fact, he turned a rather odd colour. 
"Perhaps you would like to try them on?" he managed. 
"Yes," she called back. "What do you think I should wear with them?" 
With a cheery wave, she left him behind and tripped merrily towards the open land. After what seemed like an age to her, she reached Cyril's Creek. As usual, all was tranquil and calm to the eye (although, deep in the reeds, a little grebe had just dropped a bundle after some speculative trading against the yen). She stood for a moment, breathing in the beauty. 
When the rapture had subsided and she had become more aware of her surroundings, movement in the thick stems that ringed the pond caught her eye once more. She felt odd; someone was watching her. But who? She decided to steal closer. Across the grass, over the dirt, between the ants, under the sky- you get the picture. Soon she was all but down by the water's edge with just a screen of tall, proud reeds between her and whoever was spying on her. Gently, the reeds were parted by questing fingers to reveal more behind. Onwards her exploration went until she was sure that the centre of the reeds lay before her. 
Just one more reed and the truth would surely now be revealed. Until- 
"Oh. Ow! The pain!" 
A scream came from behind her.  
She scrambled out of the reeds, looking around her for the source of the cry of pain. An oak tree regarded her, silent despite the presence of a woodpecker on its trunk; it certainly hadn't cried out in agony. Indeed, it bore the indignity and pain in silence, believing that a stiff upper lip was necessary to show class and breeding. The woodpecker just hammered away without mercy. It was the baddest, most evil woodpecker in the woods and worked hard to preserve its reputation. 
Cecily looked further afield. Or was that 'Cecily looked further. A field?' After carefully negotiating a barbed wire fence, the upright figure looked up and down the ploughed rows for any sign of who it was that had cried out. Once more, her search proved fruitless although she came back from the fields with a sizeable truckle of courgettes. Still the sounds abounded but the source remained a mystery to her. Perhaps there was someone who she could ask? Her head slowly moved through 180 degrees. Having made sure no-one was crying at her feet or directly above her head, she decided to look from side to side. 
A man lying on the floor. 
He was dressed stylishly in a suit but rather oddly lay among the ruins of a glider. Cecily rushed to his side. 
"Excuse me," she hailed him, "did you hear someone yell in pain?" 
He blinked up at her, a somewhat bewildered look in his eyes. 
"I rather think that was me," he said, smoothing his neat and small moustache. 
He was rather dashing in a lemon waistcoat. It must have been the largest piece of fruit anyone had ever produced. Aside from that, a silk scarf dangled over his silk shirt. His silk socks were just visible under his hand cobbled trousers before slipping inside the expensive hand-tailored shoes. A monocle hung from his neck and in one of his hands was grasped a gold topped cane. 
"I think I rather ditched the old crate, what?" he told her, with a rueful boyish smile. 
Breathless with exertion and speechless with unspoken attraction, Cecily helped him up. 
"Tarquin Ponsonbey-Smythe," he said. 
They shook hands and, as they shook, he winced. 
"You've hurt you hand," she cried in shock. 
Rather embarrassed, Tarquin told her that she had, in fact, hurt his hand. 
"That's some grip you have there." 
"You must let me take you to the house. We will get you patched up and I will make you something to eat. Would you like a cup of tea?" she asked, concern across her face. 
"Rather!" he replied. 
With his hand across her shoulders, he limped elegantly alongside her, away from the creek and back towards the house. Meanwhile, behind them, where the reeds were still flattened by Cecily's searching, a shadowy figure watched on. A dry croaking cry reverberated across the creek- a cry of anger and frustration. Then, a breeze stirred the river bank and the couple were hidden from view. And, in the creek, each frog quaked for it knew that vengeance would be meted on them. They hopped, they swam and slithered. But most knew that many of them would die. 
Meanwhile, Tarquin was describing his flying exploits and how he was a test pilot for a new, revolutionary and ,for the time being, unsuccessful glider. Cecily listened to him speaking, admiring his rich voice and swooning over his strong and handsome profile. 
Maybe this was what she had been hoping for. A man she could  admire, a man she could love. A man who could lift her to new and amazing heights.