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    Here thousands of bored and horny local women are surfing the web looking for anonymous sexual encounters. Can you hear them begging: These minxes really enjoy what they do, and you're going to enjoy it even more The sky was an unbroken grey and the sullied landscape was colourless and bleak. Beyond the pond, a lonely house came into view. This was her destination, the home of her school friend, Petra.

    Surrounded on all sides by mountains of waste from the pit, it resembled an outpost, a place of grim survival. Smoke puffed from its squat chimney and was immediately carried away. A light shone from between half-closed curtains. It looked desolate and unwelcoming. Kathleen approached the pond. She watched the wind form oily ripples, which rolled then broke, sluggishly. The dog sniffed the air then barked. Here, nothing grew, not a blade of grass, not even fireweed. Finds local sluts for sex in tantobie by the mine, the once legendary sweet waters had for decades been thick and lifeless. Formed in a natural fissure, the pool was deep — some said bottomless — but it was scummy now and stank of coal.

    She stopped and peered through her spectacles. Still clutching the LP she took off her glasses, breathed on the lenses, rubbed them on her coat, then replaced them. In the distance, on the water's edge next to an ancient, ruined barn, something shone red. It was bright and startling. The dog barked again. A beachball, Kathleen decided, or maybe a lost umbrella. Intrigued, she left the track and walked towards the barn, which tottered on the far shore. Her Free casual sex in washington dc 20437 sank into the black mud, leaving oozing footprints. As she neared the red blotch, she could see it wasn't round at all.

    Now it looked like fabric. It's a bedcover, she decided, blown off Petra's mam's washing line. It was caught between two rotting posts, which emerged from the shallows like broken fingers. She drew alongside the barn. Nosey was running to and fro, by the water's edge, yapping furiously. She caught her breath. She could see it clearly now — the red cloth was a jacket. Kathleen was afraid but curious. She laid the long-playing record on the ground, unfastened the heavy case and took out Da's old Box Brownie. She steadied herself, holding the camera firmly upright at waist height, in order to take a portrait shot. The wind was blowing against her and she leant forwards, balancing herself.

    Peering through her spectacles, down into the viewfinder she trapped the exact image and with her right thumb carefully pressed the device on the side that released the shutter. There was a loud Sluts in thorpe thewles as the mechanism moved. Carefully, she returned the Box Brownie to its case, then stepped into the foul pond, the cold filling her Wellingtons. I've Sluts in castle cary to see what this is, she thought.

    The icy coldness rose up her thighs. The skirt of her coat floated then dragged. She lifted her feet from the slimy bottom Finds local sluts for sex in tantobie stop them sinking. She grasped one of the posts. The discoloured water was black on the surface but a few inches underneath it was a rusty orange, which was both malodorous and dense. Above the half-submerged red jacket there were floating tendrils of short blonde hair. She took off her glasses and rubbed her eyes. She saw what was unmistakably a rigid hand, an arm. She polished the spectacles on her shoulder and put them on again.

    She was reminded of posed plaster mannequins she'd seen in shop windows on her rare trips to town. Her heart turned over and she grasped the sodden jacket, tugging it hard. This freed the stiff figure from its mooring. Grotesquely, it turned over and reared up. It was a dead body. It had a yellowish-cream waxy face and eyes that met hers and stared. Its hair was stuck down, its mouth was open with water streaming out. Its lips were drawn back in a frozen grimace from which teeth protruded. She cried out and released it. With a gentle splash it sank below the surface. Kathleen stepped back, unbalanced. She staggered then fell at the pond's edge. Soaked and Rencontre un mec from her chest downwards, she struggled to her feet.

    One of her Wellingtons came off and was lost. She struggled for breath in uneven sobs, picking up the camera, then half running back to the track. The dog overtook her, excitedly. She turned to look behind. The body was no longer visible but she knew it hadn't been a bad dream. She moved her short-sighted gaze upwards to the pale cloud. There was no break in the flat canopy, not a sliver of blue, not a single bird. Nearby, a hidden train shunted and rattled. Her sobs steadied to a heavy, even rasp. She tried, but failed to remember some religious words. Recovering her voice she shouted loudly 'Gloria! It was the name of her auntie. Her Auntie Gloria was lifeless, waterlogged, dead.

    She lay drowned in Jinny Hoolets pond. Kathleen hammered on the side door of the isolated house of her friend. Her friend peered through a gap in the curtains. The electric light made her sallow and suspicious. She opened the door. Where's Del Shannon and Neil Sedaka? She pushed past Petra into the dim scullery where the pot-bellied stove smoked and gave off practically no heat. The Koninskys were one of the few families in the area with a private telephone. Don't you know what time it is? She picked up the smooth black handset and listened, tentatively, to the tone. What d'you do again? She wanted to take charge. We need to dial nine, nine, nine.

    Below, the police had put up a screen, which blew like a sail in the wind. Two Alsatians were being led from a van, parked on the hard surface of the track. One uniformed constable was measuring the ground with a tape, another stood hands on hips, his helmet pushed back, gazing across the impassive pond. Kathleen ignored her friend. She was aware that her hands, her knees were shaking. My Auntie Gloria has been murdered, she kept thinking. Someone has done this to her. It was hard to take it in. It felt like a dream, but the scene outside was more than real. It was in sharp focus with stark definitions.

    Let me wake up, she thought, remembering Gloria's father, Da, and her boyfriend, Billy. Poor Da, she thought. It'll be even worse for them. She tried to imagine both men crying and wringing their hands, but this was impossible. She craned her neck as the flashing lights Fuck local sluts in hopton cangeford another police car became visible on the road at the top of the hill. She blinked and wondered what the adult Koninskys were doing. They'd disappeared as soon as they'd heard the news. They were nowhere to be seen. Behind the building, unobserved, Marek Koninsky chopped kindling wood. The sound of his axe rose above the wind and the shouts and barking dogs at the water's edge.

    He was wearing a fine white linen shirt, which was baggy and stained Wasco adult classifieds at the armpits. His tie and the jacket of his suit hung on a nail. His whole upper body rose and fell rhythmically. The logs split and peeled apart in rapid succession. He worked desperately, his arm flailing and his black hair falling forwards into his eyes. He seemed determined to ignore the growing hubbub Artmodel center nudes the front of his house. Not even the ambulance siren, as it careered down the road from the village, swerving left on to the track to Jinny Hoolets, distracted him from his efforts.

    Marek Koninsky was a stranger. He had moved to this black and lonely place, with his family, eighteen months before. He was a surveyor, which meant it was his job to assess the seams in the mine for future coal. He spoke English in a formal, accented way and when sober he had exquisite manners. Marek, it was said, had been educated at a Polish academy but had left his country during the war. Little was known of his history, except that he kept moving, as if pursued by demons, enemies or a guilty Japanese ninja fucked. The miners feared him because they thought he would close the pit.

    As well as this, he was known to inspire envy amongst all the men in the village because he was exceptionally handsome and tall. When he first appeared there was a kind of communal shock. No one had ever seen anyone like him before. He resembled a film star or possibly a dissolute aristocrat with his handmade clothes and his dramatic, sensuous features. His eyes were almost as black as his hair. His top lip was a full and perfect cupid's bow. He moved in an elegant, self-conscious way and he was broad-shouldered and lithe. Girls, women, housewives, mothers — all peered at him from doorways and from behind curtains, mesmerized and confused by their fascination, their unspoken, shameful desire.

    Nadezhda Koninsky leaned in her front porch, smoking a cigarette. She was wrapped in a shawl and her woollen stockings were rucked and loose. Her fine blonde-grey hair was caught up in an untidy bun. She seemed frail and a little disorientated, shaking her head in bewilderment. She coughed as she inhaled. A police officer approached her and asked her to boil a kettle for tea, but then he backed away nervously when confronted by her peculiar, detached stare. She lit one cigarette from another, throwing the dog-end into a heap that had accumulated within the porch. After a while, in a heavily accented monotone, she began reciting prayers. Nadezhda was rarely seen in the village.

    She paid to have her meat, bread and groceries delivered. No one, except the Catholic priest, ever spoke to her and it was widely but wrongly assumed that she knew no English. She seemed much Sluts in curran than her husband and a little strange. Her garments were mismatched, her gestures theatrical and her frequent praying created the impression that she talked to herself. She was sometimes described as mad, but this wasn't true. She was lonely and depressed. Nobody knew her background and because she was foreign and isolated at Jinny Hoolets, there seemed no point in bothering with her.

    Up in the village, Billy Fisher, or Billy Fishboy as he was known, pulled shut the door of Gloria's flat. News travelled fast in these parts and he'd learned of her death not long after the police were called. He stood in the entrance and looked around, furtively. He pocketed the key. In front, the wide cobbled area between the shops was deserted apart from a few housewives with shopping bags whose heads were bent against the wind. Two boys ran past dragging a bogey that was made from old pram wheels. A dog yapped at their heels.

    They didn't look at him. He was fashionably dressed for the weather and he eased his long, fitted raincoat together, fastening one button but leaving the belt undone. Around his neck he carried a German camera on a strap. Inside his coat was a sheaf of enlarged glossy black and white photographs poking from an envelope. He pushed these lower, out of sight. He tried to swallow his anxiety, his distress. He smoothed his hair in a habitual effeminate gesture. He couldn't help this even though he knew it was widely copied in a mocking way that was both accepting and cruel. The black, poisonous scum of Jinny Hoolets pond filled his imagination.

    For a moment he could see it, smell it. It was treacle-dark and stinking. He looked left and right, with his protruding, fishy eyes. Noting that the coast was clear, he stepped from the shadow of Gloria's doorway. The dog stopped in its tracks and turned, growling. Nervously Billy picked up a stone. He disliked all dogs. He took aim but the animal ran off in pursuit of the boys. Looking neither to the right or left, Billy set off briskly towards his own home on the far side of the village. Believing he could actually taste the polluted pond water himself, he spat into his handkerchief.

    As Kathleen continued to tremble and stare out the bathroom window, Petra held Nosey, Kathleen's dog, under her arm. She was on the landing outside the door. The dog struggled a little because he didn't like her. She clamped him harder. She had two cigarettes and a lighter, which she removed. It was made of gold with a single diamond in the centre and yesterday she'd stolen it from her mother. She flicked it open, creating a small flame and this she moved towards the dog's front paws. He wriggled frantically and freed himself, falling at her feet. Before she had time to back away he bared his teeth, bit her ankle then raced away down the stairs. D'you think I should tell anyone?

    She returned to the scullery downstairs. Her clothes were still damp but she put them on anyway. She pushed a foot into her single Wellington and located the square case containing Da's Box Brownie. She called for Nosey but he didn't appear. He'll be all right, she thought. He knows his way home. She ran a tap, rinsed a glass and drank some water. The sink was stained brown and there was dirty crockery piled up. She noticed clots of dust in the grey net curtains. The room was sombre and the worn linoleum was scuffed and grubby with bits of trampled food. Mrs Koninsky, still praying fervently, still smoking, stepped aside to let her pass. Kathleen paused and looked at the ambulance, which was perched near the top of the track, its driver clearly unwilling to negotiate the steep, rough slope.

    Its siren was extinguished but its light was still flashing. Over by the barn, a burly older man wearing a trilby and a coat wrote in a notebook. He had a red face and earlier he'd spoken briefly to Kathleen. He was nice, she decided and he seemed to be in charge. Just then a stretcher, carried by two ambulance men, appeared from behind the flapping screen. Mrs Koninsky, oblivious, her eyes half closed, chanted the Catechism. Kathleen's heart began to race. Oh no, she thought. She removed Da's Box Brownie from its case and turned the film advance key on the left-hand side, counter clockwise, to wind on the film.

    She tried to calm her shaking hands. She counted to five then checked the little red window at the back — it said 'two'. This was a new film and she had seven pictures left. She held the camera sideways, waist height, to get a landscape shot. She squinted behind her spectacles and tried to stay as still as possible. She wanted another picture. She wanted to try and preserve something of Gloria. The Jack Russell appeared and began barking at the approaching ambulance men, who, uncertain, stopped and stared at him. Nadezhda came out from her reverie.

    She stepped back into the porch, fending him off with exaggerated hand movements, as if she were miming. The men proceeded to carry the stretcher towards the ambulance. As it came nearer, Kathleen saw that the body was covered in a white Aertex hospital blanket. Its feet were sticking out the end, toes erect, its legs stiff in death. As it passed, Kathleen took a deep breath and steadied herself. She centred it in her viewfinder and took a photograph. Gloria was still wearing her black patent court shoes, Kathleen noticed.

    They were the latest fashion with a thick heel rather than a kitten stiletto. Kathleen was suddenly very, very sad. She got them from Dolcis, in Newcastle. She drove up there specially in her car. They cost her forty-nine and eleven. The banked-up fire cast shifting shadows around the walls. Nana's long body rocked energetically and her knitting needles clacked. She was in her usual place, at the side of the hearth, cushions heaped behind her to ease the pain in her joints. Her chair creaked, the old wall clock ticked and the coals shifted contentedly in the grate. Her wireless played quietly. Kathleen sat, half-hidden on her cracket, that is her low wooden stool, in a dark alcove.

    Her hands were folded over the camera in her lap. She'd stopped shaking but her shoulders felt rigid, her legs tense. She was motionless, watching, listening, trying not to attract attention to herself. She'd put her damp clothes in the laundry basket in the wash house and she was wearing her school uniform. She had almost nothing else, except pyjamas. Her glasses occasionally glinted from the gloom of her corner, but Nana and Joyce ignored her. Nana had lived in this colliery house all her life. Her father was a hewer and then her two husbands both worked at the mine, so there had never been a reason to move.

    The house was old, underlit and damp but she kept the place spotless, despite her arthritis. She never changed anything unless, of course, it was worn out. She sat in her mother's chair, slept in her parents' bed. She cooked the same plain food she had always eaten, with a fixed menu for each day of the week. She washed on Mondays, ironed on Tuesdays. She said the only thing that needed changing was the calendar, and even this barely varied — it was always a scene of Ceylon, provided free by Rington's Tea. Nana was set in her ways. For the last three years she had never been outside.

    Nosey, the Jack Russell, was asleep against the fender, his little legs twitching as he dreamed of ambulance men or possibly rabbit hunts across the fields. Joyce, Nana's daughter, leaned over the table, her hair dishevelled and russet in the light from the fire. Her uniform was partly undone revealing the line of her cleavage, the mound of her breasts. Her little pillbox hat was by her elbow. She heaped sugar into a cup of tea and stirred it vigorously. Joyce was unmarried and at twenty-eight was considered by most to be on the shelf. Unkind gossips in the village referred to her as 'desperate'.

    She'd been let down by a sailor when she was twenty or thereabouts and then there'd been further disappointments. She didn't earn enough money to leave home but in any event she would have stayed with her mother. It wasn't the custom in the village for unmarried women to leave their families. The only person who'd ever done this was Gloria. Joyce was bitter about her status and her humdrum existence but hadn't given up hope of meeting Mr Right. She was attractive in a blowsy way, but overweight and untidy. She had rarely travelled beyond the rows, except to occasional dances down in Stanley or trips to the seaside, which usually happened once a year.

    She rocked more furiously for an instant, then suddenly placed both feet on the mat and stopped. She bent down and tickled the dog's ears and he stretched and sighed. She patted him gently and laid her knitting aside. Imagine choosing to go in there. Nana stood up abruptly, grasped her stick and lurched towards the sideboard, her long legs stiff and unbending. She was a bony woman, and tall. She had a long, horsy face and one of her eyes was cloudy and blind. She retrieved two glasses and a chipped cut-glass decanter half full of amber liquid. This hadn't been touched since Easter. She poured an inch into each glass and handed one to her daughter. She can't spread any more rumours about us.

    At one time she'd been a central figure in village life; treasurer of the Labour Women's Guild, organizer of the Industrial Section at the flower show, a tireless collector of milk-bottle tops for Guide Dogs for the Blind. She'd been famous for her war work. However, she'd never been popular. The villagers looked backwards and they had long memories. She'd always been treated with suspicion. Now, middle-aged, housebound and neurotic, never seen in public, her firmness and rigid character found expression in negative ways. She was bullying and condemnatory. Kathleen didn't move but there were tears welling in her eyes.

    She tried to swallow but her mouth was dry. Poor Gloria was a nice person, she thought. She remembered an expression often used by her teacher at school, always about herself. Gloria had a very good brain. She watched Nosey's little heart beating as he groaned and rolled over without waking. He placed his head on Nana's slippers. Gloria was a brain-box. Joyce pushed her tea aside and swallowed her whisky in one gulp. She picked up a chocolate biscuit and hiccoughed gently. The clock struck the half hour. I never liked her and that's all there is to it.

    Not even when she was little. She was about to leave for the local cinema where she worked as an usherette. She placed her pillbox hat on the back of her head. Da will be upset. Nana knew she had discovered the body earlier, but she was unconcerned about the shock. Why can't you do as you're told, for once? She chose to move out of here, didn't she? She thought she was better than us and she laughed at us behind our backs. She'd been a hairdresser — the only one in the village. She'd been planning a refurbishment. She had big ideas, plans. She'd wanted a string of salons. Not that I can remember, mind. Da showed me a picture in a book. She sipped from her glass as if she was drinking medicine.

    She grimaced, changing the subject back again. Why should we have liked her? She ruined your chances with that nice Mr Dobbs. Her gesture implied that she had nothing further to say. Joyce stood up and pulled on a wide, old-fashioned fur jacket. Her uniform strained against her hips. Lipstick pale as chalk. That bloody beatnik black. Not much good to her now, are they? She stood up and stepped into the pool of light in front of Nana's chair. She took off her glasses, rubbed her eyes then put them on again. It'll be coming off your pocket money for years. It was rare for her to drink. She put the glass on the table. She looked her aunt in the eye.

    There was a brief silence before Joyce relented. Conciliatory, she reached out with both hands. Joyce shrugged and left the room. At that moment, the easy, melodic singing on the wireless was suddenly cut short. There was a brief silence then a serious voice spoke clearly. We interrupt this broadcast to bring you a special news bulletin. There was another pause, a crackle and a moment of electronic distortion. Nana was holding her knitting close to her eyes. Her concentration was undisturbed. She was counting rows. One hundred and one…' The newsreader continued. Kennedy has today announced the discovery of Soviet nuclear missiles on the island of Cuba.

    They were spotted and photographed by reconnaissance aircraft. Cuba is approximately ninety miles off the coast of the United States. There is concern that these missiles may be positioned in order to target major American cities. Kathleen moved over to the set and placed an ear next to the grille. It was explained that the communist dictator Fidel Castro, who seized power inruled Cuba, and he was a close ally of the Soviet Union. President Kennedy addressed the American nation today. Kathleen prepared herself for the familiar flat, lazy monotone. Any missile launched from Cuba against any nation in this hemisphere will bring a full retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union.

    Kathleen waited for her to slam the door, then went upstairs to the airing cupboard. Her coat was still damp but she put it on. She jammed her feet into her school shoes and tied the laces. Silently, she went out. I wonder where Da is, she thought. It was still early but the afternoon had faded to a grey October evening. The colliery headstock was drawing up pitmen at the end of their shift. He'll know about Gloria by now. The street lights at that moment flickered and came on, dimly. Kathleen paused for a second and blinked.

    She stood on one leg and stretched her arms into the air, trying to relieve the tension in her body, but she wobbled, unable to balance. I feel awful, she thought. Da was fed up with his daughter recently, she remembered. Every time Gloria's name had been mentioned in the last few weeks, he frowned, or sighed. The deputy had called Da away from the coal face. The news was broken loudly to him, underground. The deputy had to shout in his ear because of the rattle of the conveyor belts, and he used very few words. Da put down his tools. His mate Jonty Dickinson, known as his marra, was concerned, but he was not allowed to accompany him to the surface because this only ever happened in the event of injury.

    Alone, Da trudged the long, dark distance back to the shaft, the solitude briefly enabling him to release his emotions. His metal-toed boots rang out, the lamp on his helmet shone a narrow beam and tears streaked through the dust on his face. He stepped into the cage and came up to bank between shifts, knowing he would lose pay. Now he stood in his work clothes, black from head to foot, his soft cap clutched in both hands, his head bowed. He was tall for a miner, over six feet, but the bright tiled cleanliness of the mortuary, with its high ceiling, seemed to diminish him. He was sad and hunched and helpless as the trolley was wheeled towards him. The blanket was drawn slowly from Gloria's face, revealing its pallor, its staring expression, its ghastly, toothy grin.

    Da shuddered, stepped back and closed his eyes. The attendant muttered something consolatory. He looked again, but this time at a chain around his daughter's neck. It was entwined with a strand of debris from the pond. The mortuary attendant was calm but helpful. On a chain around her neck? A little pendant swung between his fingers. It was a two-headed sixpence, made into a necklace, which Da had given Gloria three years ago, on her twenty-first birthday. He'd told her it would bring her luck. The blanket was gently raised. Da filled in some forms, his coal-covered hands smudging the paper.

    He firmed his cap back on his head. These people don't care, she thought. Gloria was like me, she wasn't really one of them, so they just turn away, pull their curtains together, close off their minds. She remembered something dismissive Gloria had once said about the villagers. All was quiet; the shops shut up for the day, except for the hair salon. It shone brightly, tragically, its neon lights aglow, with two police cars parked outside. A broad constable filled the entrance. Her auntie's name, in pink, bold writing glowed on the fascia board above his head.

    It said Hairdresser of Distinction. Kathleen glided unnoticed to the plate-glass window and peered in through the nylon drapes. A group of officers, one the big man in the hat and overcoat, sat around, incongruously, under the dryers. They were drinking tea from Thermos flasks. A young one had placed his helmet in a basket of plastic rollers, which stood on a stand. Another leaned casually against a basin. Gloria had rented the salon soon after leaving her training course in Tynemouth. She gradually built up trade, not least because she was a good listener and a bit of a laugh.

    As well as this, she gently suggested new styles and experimented with new methods. She understood what women wanted but also what suited them. She was a good hairdresser. She remained an outsider in the community but in her salon she was respected. Some travelled distances on buses or trains in order to entrust her with their perms, colours or sets. She specialized in weddings. These had made her famous, in a small way. Every Saturday two or three brides arrived in housecoats and slippers, all jittery and talkative. They came from the whole of Durham and occasionally beyond. They clutched their head-dresses or bunches of artificial flowers, sometimes even their veils.

    Gloria always managed to combine these with their hair in a most attractive way. Within three years she'd bought the business and the lease on the building and moved into the flat above the shop. Even though she was still only twenty-four years old she'd decided to revamp the interior, making it more contemporary. She imagined pine, chrome and sleek lines. She was going to rename it Scissors Unisex and had plans to take on an assistant. It'll never happen now, Kathleen thought sadly. It'll stay old-fashioned, like everything else here. Gloria had been one of the few people in the village, perhaps the only one, apart from herself, who was truly connected with the modern world.

    She'd looked towards the future with excitement instead of dread. This was why Kathleen admired her so much. Gloria had believed in progress.

    Blink (Macmillan crime)

    She'd believed in things locla better. Now there's just me, Fijds decided. Realizing Fknds, she felt tears again come into her eyes. She rubbed them hard. Finds local sluts for sex in tantobie stood at the back of the cinema and yawned. Her tray of ice creams was clipped to Finds local sluts for sex in tantobie harness around her neck, ready to Ariel miller nude illuminated tzntobie the locaal. It was a good house tonight, with only a few centre rows tantovie. She stared at the screen. Cliff Richard sang gor danced energetically for the umpteenth time, partnered by a thin young woman whose tsntobie hair and cut-off fashionable capri pants reminded her of Gloria.

    She hoped there would be a brief scandal that would quickly burn out. She knew people Ukraine dating sites scams have trouble believing that her stepsister had been in despair. She'd laughed such a Fjnds, even if sometimes her laughter was unkind. This slutts the notion of suicide seem bizarre tor out-of-character. On the other hand, she was still seen as an incomer and, in these parts, this could account for almost anything. She tried to picture Gloria deliberately wading sfx the scummy shallows of Jinny Hoolets pond, intending to kill herself. The well-groomed hairdresser had hated the cold, she'd hated getting dirty.

    She had no time for self-pity slyts negative thoughts of any kind. She wasn't a reflective person. At that moment she noticed the new man from the Co-op Butcher's stand tnatobie and leave his seat. He was alone and reasonably good looking, even if he Funds a teddy boy. It's his day off, she thought. He walked dluts the aisle slut her. She moved under the 'exit' light and adjusted her stance, thrusting forward one slkts. She raised a hand to her hair. As he passed on his way to the gents, she parted her newly slutx lips in a winning smile. Fins winked then brushed against her arm, as she shone her torch for him.

    Nana was upstairs in the house in First Street, going through her husband's pockets. His best suit was on the bed, as was his sports jacket and his second-best trousers. All she'd found so far were some minutes of a union meeting, a wage slip and an old wallet, which contained his library tickets. She felt in the back fold and produced a photograph of his former wife with Gloria as a child. This she tore into shreds, throwing the pieces into the air. She examined his shoes, his shirts, his waistcoat. She found an unfamiliar tie, which she rolled into a ball and stuffed into her pinafore, intending to burn it on the range. She found his slippers and taking a half-filled glass from the bedside cabinet, poured water into each.

    She sat on a hard chair next to the window and looked out into the street. She squinted with her short-sighted eye. A young woman approached, leading a reluctant toddler by the hand. She stopped opposite Nana's front door, hesitated, then bent down to adjust the little boy's clothing. It makes a change from that hussy from Jinny Hoolets. Here's another one, a new one. Come to see him and make secret signals to him from the street. With difficulty, she stood up and leaned against the glass. Unaware, unhearing, the woman continued on her way. He's not even here, is he? His sainted daughter's gone and drowned! She stepped unseen into the tiny storeroom where Gloria had sipped Tizer and read fashion magazines whenever business was slack.

    At this moment there was a rumble of inappropriate laughter from the men. Kathleen took a deep breath. The smell of the perming chemicals reminded her unbearably of her aunt. Her heart started beating fast. Oh, my poor Auntie Gloria. She peeped into the salon. She realized that Nosey the Jack Russell was snuffling at her feet. The older, thick set man had put his cup on the floor and was writing again in his notebook. Kathleen followed his gaze. He was copying some words, inscribed large on a wall mirror.

    The script was wobbly and written in what looked like dark red lipstick. Kathleen glanced down at a jar of combs in disinfectant and two oversized bottles of shampoo, then stared up again. Then there was something rubbed out and below, less legibly, 'Now I'm free! That's not Gloria's writing, she thought. Without knowing why, she eased Da's Box Brownie from its case. Her hands were steadier than they'd been earlier. She wound on the film, and turned the camera upright to portrait position, pointing the lens at the mirror. The words wouldn't fit in the finder, so she stepped backwards. She knew the glare from the lights would be problematic.

    As she pressed the lever, releasing the shutter, Nosey burst from between her legs and ran forwards, barking joyously, crashing open the door. One policeman threw his tea in the air as the little dog clamped his jaws around the hem of the burly man's regulation trousers. He released the trousers and grabbed the edge of the overcoat swinging briefly above the ground, before letting go and running outside. She put her camera away, too shy to look up. They went out to the cars. She took a deep breath. My friend Petra Koninsky. She felt a wave of certainty. She spoke in a rush. She was going to make it…' She hesitated.

    It was like a sort of cabin. It was called Norwegian Wood. She said rollers and setting lotion are finished. She was planning on moving into blow-drying. In the hair styling world. Our inquiries are continuing. She hesitated, making a joke. Mission control over and out. Nana knitted and rocked in her chair, as if she'd never moved. Nosey lapped some water then settled near her feet. She was listening to Sing Something Simple on the wireless. The volume was up loud and every so often she would join in, with odd emphases.

    You make me happy when skies are grey. Her stomach reminded her that she'd not eaten any tea.