The Devil of Moravia: Murder and mischief. Aunty Gloria tells a story

Clock face and dial

Image : Pixabay

 

The grandfather clock has never worked. Not through my liftetime, or Mum’s or Gran’s, so Aunty Gloria said. She’d told me its history one afternoon when we were all at Gran’s during the summer holiday.

Dad had taken my brother Fred down to the river to fish, though as they left with rods and waders and their share of the sardine sandwiches that Gran had made for lunch, Gloria called after them, ‘The only thing you’ll catch is a cold.’ She pushed her own sandwich aside in favour of another cigarette.

Gran disappeared, hoe in hand, to weed the vegetable patch (something she did a lot when Gloria was there), Mum had one of her headaches and had gone to lie down upstairs, which left me alone with Gloria.

I had my book – a boy’s adventure story set in Africa – and had bagged the window seat. Gran’s cat Boots was at my feet, his patchy tail curled round my left ankle and I was just growing weary of murdered missionaries, bouts of malarial fever and river leeches when Gloria said,

‘Did your mother ever tell you about The Clock, Fiona?’

Gran had several clocks – one in each bedroom, a white enamelled one with a loud tick on the kitchen wall – but only one we called The Clock.

Relieved to escape another native uprising, I closed my book. ‘I don’t think so,’ I said.

She was sitting on Gran’s flowered sofa, stocking feet tucked under her bottom. Her grey roots were showing under the auburn hair dye and her lipstick had bled into the corners of her mouth, extending her smile and reminding me of the clowns I’d seen at the circus a few weeks earlier. She pulled a lilac cigarette from its packet, screwed it into the holder and sat with it poised between her fingers.

‘Be a pet,’ she said, ‘and fetch the matches from the mantlepiece for me.’ She smiled, showing more lipstick on her teeth.

Intrigued by the promise of a story, I fetched the matches and sparked one into life. Gloria poked the cigarette into the flame, sucked and puffed until the end glowed then blew out the match. Her breath smelt bitter – smoke and coffee – and my instinct was to jerk away but knowing I’d look rude, I held my breath until the smoke dispersed.

She patted the empty seat beside her. ‘Come and sit, dear heart. Snuggle up with Aunty Gloria and I’ll tell you a terrible tale of mischief and murder.’ She giggled, flicking a stub of ash onto to her uneaten sandwich.

I sat down, sure to keep a little distance between us. I was twelve. Far to grown up to be ‘snuggling’ with aunts.

She turned so her back was pressed into the arm of the sofa, feet on the middle cushion, her toes a fraction of an inch away from my leg. ‘Do you know how old that clock is?’

I shook my head.

‘Older than the old queen,’ she smiled, ‘the one with the bulldog face who always wore black.’

‘Queen Victoria,’ I said.

‘Yes, yes,’ she said, waving me quiet with the cigarette holder. ‘Older than that. Older than the grumpy old king that came before her. Older than the fat one before him.’

‘George IV.’

‘Do you wish to hear a story or give a history lesson? Be quiet now. Where was I? Ah, yes. Well, it’s a very old clock. The case might be new. The movement too. But it’s very old.’

I was tempted to point out that that if both movement and case we new then surely The Clock wasn’t as old as all that, but I didn’t want a cloud of foul smelling smoke wafted in my face again, so I stayed quiet.

‘It all happened years and years ago, when The Clock was owned by Lord Edmund Spencer. Lord Edmund was a gambler. Baccarat was his favourite game but he’d bet on anything – the weather, the number of spots on a ladybird. The situation became so awful and money so scarce that he was down to his last servant – the rest had left the week before with what remained of the silver plate – and the few shillings in his pocket. And, of course, The Clock. His debts were high, prison his only future.

‘One dreadful evening as rain hammered at the casement and wind wormed through every gap and cranny in the house, Lord Edmund was sitting by a meagre fire of twigs. He had opened his last bottle of claret and his pistol was loaded on the table. This was to be the night he ended it all. Better burial in an unmarked grave than filthy, humiliating starvation in the Marshalsea.

‘He swallowed the last dregs of the wine. And as he reached for his pistol, there came a mighty hammering at the front door.’

 


 

Written for The Daily Post’s Daily Prompt – CLOCK. See here to read what others have written and join the fun.

So, where should we go from here, my loves? Shall we follow the adventures of the dissolute Lord Edmund, learn the secrets of The Clock? Or shall we forget about the old soak entirely?

Let me know what you think.

 

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39 thoughts on “The Devil of Moravia: Murder and mischief. Aunty Gloria tells a story

    1. Thanks so much, Louise 🙂 I rather liked Gloria too – bit of a character with a disreputable past, I’d say. I reckon she did a lot of naughty stuff in her youth 🙂 Thank you for reading

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Please, please give us more! Gloria reminded me of an aunt of mine when I was little.
    I just love the way your mind works Lynn… How on earth do you keep coming up with all these new ideas? If I win the lotto I’m funding you to get published… So there!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are the best human being! What a kind and generous person you are, love. Thank you so much for giving me a boost of self belief so often.
      I love Gloria too, though I think the action will have to swing towards Lord Edmund and his mysterious visitor now. Glor will definitely be a gal I keep in my back pocket, though, ready to pounce another day.
      What was your aunt like? Did you like her or find her a little intimidating like Fiona does Glor?
      Better get scribbling the next installment 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Aw that’s made me smile! Thank,you!

        My aunt was very glamorous. She lived in The Bahamas and when she came back to visit Ireland in the summer she wore fur! Always smoked a cigarette using a cigarette holder, the tip stained with her pink lipstick. She was the first person to introduce me to pizza I think! Died way too early from cancer. Have fond memories of her. Everyone says I took after her.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Wow, she sounds amazing – she must have made such an impact on you, that chunk of fur clad glamour all the way from a tropical island. Brilliant. Sad that she died so early. Those damn cigarettes. Do you think you take after her? Where’s your fur coat? 🙂 x

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I do think I took after her. She was the rebel in her family and that was my role too.

        the only fur I’d wear would be fake! I did used to smoke though and I was the only one in my family to wear make up etc.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. You, the black sheep? Don’t believe it! Yes, fake fur all the way. I was made to wear a fox fur when my dad got remarried – stinking old thing it was. Horrible.
        Nothing wrong with a bit of slap – something I appreciate more and more as I age 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Aw, thanks Casey. I have yet to write the rest of Lord Edmund’s story, but it will be full of murder and mischief, I have no doubt 🙂 Thanks for reading. BTW did you see the link Sammi posted on PB about the agent open submission? Might be worth a go 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, great! Keep us informed on how you get on with the submission. I think Sammi uses Wattpad and thinks it’s great. Not sure I can cope with more social media to keep up with – already rubbish in fb, Twitter, Goodreads … 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh, I am subbing, yes. Sending my YA on Monday and my work-in-progress supernatural thriller 2 weeks later as they don’t specify one entrant only per writer. A good reason to polish a bit moe, if nothing else 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      3. It’s the best way to look at it, Casey. We may have slim chances of success, but people do get picked up from these open submissions or the agents and publishers wouldn’t bother running them. And, yes it really helps to focus your mind, having a dealine. Very best of luck with it – I’ll have all my fingers and toes crossed for you – and do let us know how you get on 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Haha! Well, you see, this is where I have an advantage over you mere mortals. I have inherited a minor genetic abnormality from my grandad that means one of my little toes is bent over the others – my toe is always crossed. Kinda gross, but good for wishing people luck 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Did you do it did you do it did you do it? I did. Now I’m praying I won’t find out I made some horrific mistake, like misspelling the email address… 🙂 (Although I checked it about a million times…)

        Liked by 1 person

      6. You’re so keen! Yes, I’ve just sent it now, though like you I checked the email address a load of times, along with the submission for clunky prose, typos, typos, typos. Word blindness got me in the end and I just had to click send, ready or not. Problem was the more often I read it, the more rubbish it seemed. Ah, well, tis gone now. Did you get a confirmation email? No sign yet here. Good luck us, I say 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      7. You just exactly described my preparation, down to the final, “ahhhhhhhhh…ok, sending now.”

        No, I haven’t heard but was going to ask you. I wish they’d utilized an auto-reply so we knew it went through.

        Toes crossed! (I had to force mine…)

        Liked by 1 person

      8. Haha! I’ll let you know if I hear anything, though they don’t say they’ll confirm the email, so I guess they might not. I’m always the same when submitting – never quite believe my own eyes and am convinced I’ve included some terrible mistake.
        Well, all done. I now have two weeks to polish the next sub and write a synopsis, by which time I might have just heard back about this one. What a merry-go-round.

        Liked by 1 person

      9. I may have just shot myself in the foot…but hopefully the plug will help you. 😉 My message sent to general email:

        Hi, there,

        Sending this email may guarantee my manuscript ends up in the “to burn because the author bothered us within 24 hours” pile, but it’s my first submission ever and just want to be sure:

        I sent a story in for the Children’s/YA Open House at 8:53 am your time (if I calculated time zones properly). Is there any way to verify it arrived? If you don’t have it I’d like to resubmit before the deadline passes.

        My friend Lynn Love submitted as well (you should definitely pick her work even if you decline mine—she’s brilliant) and said she couldn’t tell if hers went through either. Since we have the same result, I hope this means we were both successful.

        Thank you again for your time and for the opportunity to submit my work.

        Warmest Regards,

        Casey Alexander (The Doll)

        Liked by 1 person

      10. Haha! What a plug – you’re hilarious. You don’t fancy being my agent instead do you? 🙂 I think it was a charming query and there’s no way they’ll penalise you for that. I saw much worse during the Hodderscape open submission Sonya and I did last year – some people were openly rude on message boards which I found astonishing. Yes, there were delays in commnucation, but they want these people to consider their work and they’re opening rude? Ridiculous.
        As UA don’t have an automated reply in place, they might be swamped with subs today and gradually confirm as they log them over the next few days, maybe? I’m sure they’ve received us both fine. Good luck again – from what I’ve read you deserve to be picked up, Casey, truly 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      11. That might not be a bad idea…agents make a lot of money, right? 🙂 Probably more than the writers.
        Yeah, being rude doesn’t even make sense. I feel like that would guarantee you get the boot (American reference to boot, not English, although you might get tossed in an English boot if you’re really nasty).
        Thanks for the encouragement! What time did you get yours in? I had planned to get it in right at 12 am but painting the bathroom took longer than I expected (trying to get it back to usable) so it was 8:53am by the time I gave up editing and hit send. 🙂 I assume they’ll go in “order received”…ugh stupid bathroom…

        Ok, I have to run. Lovely chatting with you in real time for once! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      12. I think I finally sent mine off at about quarter to 2pm BST, though I’d been working on it since 7am (and since Sammi posted the thread, of course). I am ridiculous really, because apart from writing the email to go with it, it was really just tweaking – tweak, tweak, tweak and still not happy. Well, it’s just gone 6pm now, so time’s up.
        You’ve been painting your bathroom, and this pm I’ve been painting my kitchen – though by choice, not enforced! Happy decorating 🙂

        Like

      13. Hey, I just posted a link on PB. I saw Myslexia (not sure of the spelling off hand) in the list and thought of you. (Isn’t that the group you wrote for/with a while back?)

        Liked by 1 person

      14. Yes, well remembered! I blogged for Mslexia, as did Sonya. Will put a link to their writing opportunities on PB. They were great to work with and have a range of other writing slots too. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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