Death Dances in the Shadows: Wyndwrayth – Chapter 12 Excerpt

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The Four Winds, was an old coaching house that had an air of long dead Highway Men and a faint whiff of some scurrilous behaviour, or other.  It also had the advantage of being half way between their two homes. ‘I think he’ll like the vibe of the place and the Jukebox, ain’t bad either,’ Nick considered. ‘There’s a couple of tracks missing but nothing that’s really important, I can live with that.’ He’d been in the place, twice previously. Both times had been in the Summer, when he’d been on one of his ‘get to know Anglesey,’ trips. He would leave Bethyn Bryn and just drive, letting the spirit of the day dictate the direction of travel. That was how he came across The Four Winds coaching house. He recalled the first time he’d been there. He was driving through golden fields of swaying barley, when he first saw the place rising at the intersection of four fields. A single white house, with what appeared to be old refurbished stables at the rear. The clock on the dashboard had read 13:05, in digital figures and he was feeling hungry, so he had stopped outside this lonely looking Public House in his new red Volvo, Trev 2, with the intention of spending some time inside.

As Nick disembarked he noticed how the Volvo, somehow matched this particular setting, as if it was all part of the same picture. A cobbled forecourt, red post box and a real vintage Telephone Kiosk, which looked as if it may have been the site of the first ever call in 1921, and Trev 2. This was Kismet! He had to go inside and see what other delights lay within.

As he walked through the door, the music and the fragrance of the hoppy beer, mixed with home cooking, hit him and he was won over. Nick picked up one of the Lunchtime Menu’s and took a look at what was on offer. On seeing that everything was apparently themed, he called over the waiter and asked for a little assistance.

“I know that it might be me being a bit dim, but what exactly is, ‘Wrecker’s Pie’ and what’s in the ‘Musket Ball Pasty.’” His questions, raised a wry smile on the stewards’ face, producing an answer he’d undoubtedly given a thousand times before:

“The Wrecker’s, is a savoury fish pie and The Musket Ball, is a pasty with a punch, Sir.” He imparted the requested information, in an almost deadpan tone, as if he were a servingbot.

“And what was that,” Nick enquired, grinning at the young lad who was attempting to fulfil his given roll, “Dead man’s droll, or perhaps, it was a Gunners groan,” he asked, while smiling to put the young man at his ease.

“No Sir, it was delivered in an obscure dialect of Ancient Pissed Off Waiter, that was last spoken, I believe, by The Druids.”

His answer made Nick laugh and splutter at the same time as he caught the edge of his glass, in an unexpected fit of the giggles. The neatly arranged table cloth then came to its own, saving the entire area from a righteous splattering. The highly amusing Maitre D’e, was now standing silently by the condiments, with his pen at the ready, waiting for Nick to order.

“Phew, that was a close call,” he said apologetically. “A foot, or two closer and you’d have been a goner,” he added, then ordered the Wrecker’s Pie with a side serving of fresh Green Salad for his lunch.

“Thank you, Sir. Will there be anything else?” Mewed the man servant and patiently waited for any rejoinder that may follow. He was about to move away, when Nick spoke up and enquired as to the blend of the coffee. “We have Arabica Black Bean and Barista Novo and if I may say, taking it that you are an experienced coffee drinker, may I suggest the Arabica Black. I think you’ll find it more satisfying than the Barista, which I must admit, I find a little insipid.” Nick nodded in agreement and he turned and headed off towards the kitchen.

Nick, watched the waiter as he departed and shook his head, as much in wonderment, as dismay. ‘I hope this is just a Summer job and a sharp bloke like that, isn’t here permanently,’ he thought and waited for his Wreckers Pie, to arrive. The place was filling up with farm and other manual workers, when Nick’s meal arrived. The rich smell of fresh fish and minted New Potatoes, wafted up and made him even more ravenous. The arrival of the bread and butter, with the sauce boat and its lemon enhanced contents, almost drove Nick mad.

“I think Sir will enjoy this,” said his waiter, as he turned away “and the coffee, is freshly ground and served, just a few degrees below the boiling point.” Nick, just smiled as in unison, he and the waiter said, “We wouldn’t want to scald the beans, now would we?” With that, Nick nodded his head in recognition of a kindred spirit and turned his attention to the steaming portion of Wrecker’s Pie and his aromatic drink, on the table before him.

For one reason, or another he hadn’t returned to The Four Winds, until the following year and unfortunately, much had changed. Though it still looked much the same from the outside, the interior had been given a complete makeover. The new proprietor had jazzed up the lounge and replaced the old photographs of the place, with a selection of rather indifferent contemporary oil paintings but at least he’d left the food, beer and Jukebox alone. The Wreckers Pie and the Musket Ball Pasty, were still on the menu but several new and undoubtedly delicious meals had been added, along with quite a few exotic blends of tea. There were now five standard coffee blends on the list of beverages and Irish, Scottish and Jamaican variations, were also available. The staff had increased in number but his laconic waiter, seemed to have departed, only to be replaced by a rather dipsy female and a ludicrously young lad, who took the desert orders and served drinks with an insipid smile permanently plastered across his face. Any enquiries, as to what had happened to the previous staff members, were met with a simple, “Before my time.” It was clear, that any further conversation, if it could be described as such, was pointless. Any consideration of further discourse, was curtailed as ‘Satisfaction’ finished on the jukebox. Nick had just drunk the last of his coffee and with that, he’d cast his eyes politely around the room, inhaled one deep breath in order to ‘take in the essence of the place,’ then made his way to his car in an incredibly good mood.

It was that visit, that he decided The Four Winds was more than likely the finest eating establishment on the island and if he got the chance, he would invite any friends, or potentially valuable clients, to the place for a meal. So far, he’d invited nobody to his, “Secret place in The Corn,” as he was starting to refer it, so it only seemed fitting, that Alan should be the first.

“Memories, memories,” Nick mused to himself and sent his reply to Altorro, with the invitation. Nick now attempted to remember exactly where he was in Crispy’s report, before the day had got in the way. The night was drawing in and as the last shred of light was extinguished over Ynys y Niwl, Nick began to type.

*

As he was finishing his e-mail to Alan, suggesting they meet at The Four Winds, Lady Clarissa Cleaver, who was trying to find her driving license, quite by accident, discovered an unsent note obviously written recently by her husband:

“Clarissa, you ungrateful Harpy, I wrote this to inform you that I’ve gone to the Villa in Portugal and I won’t be coming back. You can have the house, land, lake and the bloody children. I will keep the Villa and be seeking custody of the dogs. You never liked them and I can assure you, that the feeling was mutual. I will be placing our affairs in the hands of J.P.K. Cruikshank, (Solicitors) and wish to have nothing more to do with you. I have filed for divorce and your copy of the papers, should be arriving forthwith. I think that you will find the arrangements most satisfactory and I trust, that there will be no unnecessary squabbling over any money’s that you feel you are owed. 50% of my not inconsiderable assets should be well enough, even for an acquisitive beggar like you. They will just need your signature and then we can be free of each other. Forever.”

 Curiously, Clarissa was somewhat relieved to read this note. It had saved her from having to do the same thing to Cuthbert, or waiting for him to be missing, declared dead. The proposed settlement seemed amicable enough and she certainly had no intention of doing anything other than taking the dogs to the Vet and having them ‘put down.’ So, his request to have the ghastly beasts with him in Portugal, was fine by her. She loathed Baskerville and Cerberus, so he could have them both, so long as he paid the costs of flying them out there. All she had to do now, was casually inform all of her friends of the situation and just carry on, as if nothing had happened. Because in truth, it didn’t matter anyway.

“I believe this calls for an impromptu bonfire! I think Cuthbert’s wardrobe will provide me with all the tinder I’ll be needing for a damn good blaze,” she snorted. “I think, I’ll begin with the bastards favourite Dinner Jacket,” she hissed and readied her lighter for the task ahead.

**

 

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