Saturday, 27 May 2017

Guest Author Lesley Wilson of Australia

Born in North Yorkshire, Lesley Wilson was inspired to write stories at an early age. She turned her father’s garage into a theatre and produced juvenile dramas. Local kids who watched her shows were expected to donate a penny to the RSPCA. In her early teens, Lesley joined a theatre company and took part in many productions.

     On a train journey to Italy in 1957, Lesley met a young man. A whirlwind courtship followed before he joined the British Army. Fifteen months and hundreds of letters later, Lesley, aged seventeen, boarded a troop ship bound for Singapore, where she married the love of her life.

     Lesley’s careers have included fashion modeling, market research and running her own business but writing has always been her true passion. She completed a course in Journalism with the London School of Writing, and was also an active member of a writers’ group for several years.

     She now lives with her husband in North Queensland, and enjoys frequent visits from her two teenage grandchildren. When Lesley isn’t writing, she loves to read, entertain friends, and travel.

Oric and the Alchemist’s Key, published in 2015, is the first book in a medieval trilogy for young adults and young at heart readers. Book two, Oric and the Lockton Castle Mystery, was published in March 2017. Book Three Oric and the Web of Evil will be published during 2018

How Oric Eventuated


Several years ago I constructed a fabric figure on a wire armature. I dressed him in a long, purple tunic, flowing silver cloak, and perched a scholar’s cap upon his head. A cloud of wispy white hair and beard added character to his charm.  With his gnarled fingers wrapped around a book of herbal recipes, he looks every inch the medieval apothecary. I fell in love with the little man, and named him Ichtheus. He was the catalyst that began the Oric Trilogy.  Over the following few years I wrote Oric and the Alchemist’s Key, which is now published. A sequel Oric and the Lockton Castle Mystery was published in March 2017. Book three, Oric and the Web of Evil will be published during 2018

     I grew up in the backwoods of Yorkshire. Vast acres of heather and gorse-clad moors, where I cycled and hiked in winter and summer, were my back yard. Many medieval towns and villages exist to this day, all of which provided me with a wonderful backdrop on which to base my stories.


                   Excerpt from Oric and the Alchemist’s Key

                                           Lesley Wilson

                                       Churchyard Witch

Outside Nathaniel’s cottage, the cold air struck Oric and Ichtheus like a body blow. An icy moon sailed in an ocean of night sky, towing silver clouds in its wake. In a hurry to get back to Bayersby Manor and his warm bed, Ichtheus set a brisk pace.

     Oric followed with the dog.

     The only member of the trio not staggering was Parzifal.

     “What ails you, boy?” Ichtheus slurred. “You will have me fall upon my backside if you continue to run into me like that. Pish! Can you not hold your liquor?”

     Oric gave a hiccupping titter. “‘Tis not my fault, Master Ichtheus, ‘tis you that has over imbibed, not I!” 

      They soldiered on, tripping over each other until St Griswald’s Church loomed into sight. Nathaniel’s talk of witches and ghosts overrode Oric’s good sense, and he hung back. He had guts aplenty for everyday things, but ghosts were another matter altogether.

     “What a great booby you are,” chafed Ichtheus, cuffing Oric’s ears affectionately. “Come, we shall sing a song to cheer ourselves.” Without further ado, he launched into his favourite hymn.

     Oric joined in half-heartedly. Neither of them had an ear for music, and the noise they made set Parzifal to howling.

     Moonlight cast long shadows, creating a black and silver scene. Trees took on sinister shapes, and a sudden breeze made an old yew tree creak. The owl hooted from his perch in the bell-tower, causing Oric’s neck hairs to stand on end.

     An urge to relieve himself overtook Ichtheus. While he fumbled with all his extra clothing, Oric and Parzifal sloped off around a bend in the pathway.  Ichtheus was in full-stream when the pair reappeared, running as if chased by demons. Oric crashed into his master, and bowled him over. Unable to turn off his tap in time, Ichtheus pissed copiously into one of his boots.

      “Damn your eyes, boy!” Ichtheus staggered to his feet, “What in heaven’s name are you about?” He shook his foot. “You blithering fool … look what you have caused me to do.” He set his wet boot on the ground, and was disgusted to hear it squelch.  

      Oric’s voice rose from hoarse whispers to high squeaks of sheer terror. He grabbed Ichtheus by the arms. “Master!  Master! I saw it. Her! The thing!”

     “What thing, boy? What THING?” Ichtheus shouted and shook Oric as if he were a rag doll.

    “The witch! You remember! The one we talked about with Nathaniel. That old hag that was burned! I saw her around the corner,” Oric pointed a shaking finger. “She is there, I tell you. All of a quiver and a dither, she smiled and beckoned to me.”

     “What rubbish, boy!” Filled with nettle wine, mead, and bravado, Ichtheus strode down the path to investigate.

     Parzifal loped alongside, rumbling with growls. Feeling less brave by the minute, Ichtheus rounded the bole of a giant oak-tree.

    “Oh, my sainted aunt!” he gasped, his bravado deflated like a pig’s bladder pricked by a dagger. He seized Parzifal’s collar and huddled into the oak’s dark shadow. Summoning every ounce of his courage, he took another peek around the tree trunk.

     Not more than twenty strides away an old woman sat upon a rickety cart. She dithered and beckoned, just as Oric had described. Something was in the trees, too. Pallid, disembodied faces floated about as if imbued with a life of their own.

     Prickled from head to foot with gooseflesh, Ichtheus lost his nerve. He turned and fled on liquid legs towards the churchyard gate. Parzifal chased after his master. Now horribly sober, Ichtheus stopped at the gate to make sure the apparitions did not follow. He tried to catch his breath and slow his racing heart. It would never do to let Oric see him in this state. Oh, dear, no! The lad would never allow him to live it down.

     Oric was hiding in a ditch.  

     “Get out of there, boy! There is nothing to be afraid of,” Ichtheus bluffed in his boldest voice. “The ghost you saw is naught but a trick of the moonlight. However, to spare you further distress, we shall traverse the churchyard’s outer wall instead of cutting across the middle.”

     The sight of his master’s rigid face stilled Oric’s tongue, but he did not believe a word Ichtheus said.

     They galloped around the churchyard’s perimeter. Only when they had gained the cover of the overgrown footpath did they slow their pace. Not a word passed between them until they arrived back at Bayersby Manor.

     Still shaken, Oric bid his master a subdued goodnight and crawled, fully clothed, into his inglenook corner.      

     Ichtheus removed his boots and dropped thankfully onto his truckle bed, but he took a long time to fall asleep.




Mirth was not something the Horzefell family indulged in very often, but at this moment Rastus and Hersica were shaking with unrestrained glee.

     “Did you see the silly old fool?” Hersica screeched. “And did you ever hear such a racket? Trying to sing … hah! They sounded like tomcats from hell.” Tears ran down her lined cheeks and made tracks in the dirt. “I scared the apothecary witless, beckoning to him from yon barrow, like as not he lost control of his bowels with fright!”

     Rastus clutched his aching sides. “I doubt we shall see that pair here again. You did a grand job,” he praised Ned and Joe, who were equally doubled up with laughter. “Am I not a crafty beggar, coming up with such a clever idea? Holding those oil lamps under your chins when you were up the trees was a stroke of genius.” Rastus erupted with more horrible squeaks and wheezes as he visualised the urchins’ distorted faces. From a distance they had looked like disembodied ghouls as they climbed from branch to branch. Just for the fun of it, Rastus had grabbed a lamp and joined in.

     The church door banged, making everyone jump. Figg had returned.

     “What is the cause of your hilarity?” In a foul temper, Figg’s icy voice sliced through the crypt.

     Flushed with success, Rastus related how he had rid the churchyard of the apothecary and his apprentice.

     “You imbecile,” Figg shrieked. “You had those pests within your grasp and you let them go free?” Almost beside himself with rage, he held up his thumb and forefinger a hairsbreadth apart. “And you think it funny that we came this close to discovery?”

     The inhabitants of the crypt cowered under the intensity of the moneylender’s abuse.

     Figg took a deep, steadying breath. “However, circumstance may favour us for once. If the local folk are convinced this place is haunted, they will keep away. But I am not so sure about the apothecary. He is no fool.” Figg withered Rastus with a terrible look. “If you miss another chance to kill him, I shall not be responsible for my actions.” His eyes glittered like shards of ice, “And next time the opportunity arises, seize the apothecary’s apprentice and bring him to me …  alive.”




Next morning Oric tried to assemble his thoughts, but he could make no sense of the things he had witnessed the night before. Surely he had imagined the ghostly old crone in the graveyard. Nevertheless, he was in no hurry to return to St Griswald’s, and he hoped his master would forget the whole sorry incident.

     Ichtheus crawled from his bed. Sober, and in the cold light of day, his intellect told him there was more to the strange goings on at the old church  than met the eye.


 Thank you Lesley for being our guest this week. Good luck with your series.

A huge Thank You to YOU for visiting the Scribbler. Please feel free to leave a comment below.


Saturday, 20 May 2017

TL & The Real Estate Lady PART 2 by allan hudson

Things start to heat up in Part 2 of my short story. If you missed Part 1, just scroll down to the bottom of this post.

One of my favorite characters is TJ. He's been in two of my short stories already. You met him first in the Two Grumpy Old Men Café and then in the Finale of the Two Grumpy Old Men Café

A perpetual playboy. Swears he'll never get married. Now that the café belongs to someone else, what is he up to?

Read Part 2 of TJ's latest escapades in

TJ & the Real Estate Lady.

Closing his eyes, he lets his mind wander. It goes back to his childhood, back to when he was a boy in South Branch. Particularly of one morning he was hiding in the backseat of his brother’s 56 Chevy, reading a Hardy Boys novel his teacher had loaned him.  He was eleven. The book was the Hidden Harbor Mystery. Frank and Joe Hardy and their friend Chet Morton have just been arrested. TJ couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. He ignored his sister calling him for dinner, he had taken a box of soda crackers from the shelf when he sneaked out so he wasn’t hungry. He slithered down on the floor when his friends ran through the yard looking for him so they wouldn’t see him.

It’s always been one of his fondest memories. The car was new, you could still smell the cleaners and drying glues. Taking off his sneakers, he could lie down full length on the seat. Warm sunshine streamed in the back window, making the hiding spot toasty and comfortable. A bottle of cola propped between his knees. He was doing his favorite thing with his favorite heroes. TJ remembers the intense feeling of content he experienced that afternoon. Recalling it now causes him a brief shiver. His eyes shoot open. His hands rise out of the water for emphasis.

“That’s it. I’m moving back to South Branch!”

Momentarily unfocused he shakes his head and looks around. Bubbles burst and steams rises about him. The deck and starry night stop moving and his head clears. Crawling out of the tub, he steps from the fiberglass step onto the cedar platform, grabbing a large black towel.  Taking two steps down he walks out on the ceramic tiles, toweling the moisture from his body. Deep in thought he wobbles some but manages to dry himself thoroughly. The more he thinks of his existence here he feels out of touch, unconnected from his beginnings, his kin. He’s almost afraid to admit it but he’s tired of living alone. Wrapping the towel about his chest he heads towards the bedroom with one last statement to the empty deck.

“Tomorrow I’m selling my house!”


A one acre lot in the gated community of Sheldon’s Lake Estates sells for a quarter million dollars. The transaction stipulates that any home built within the estate must be a minimum of equal value. Most homes average one million. To be offered a listing in this neighborhood is a realtor’s most distinguished moment. Commissions will be in the thousands. TJ knows this as he flips through the list of realty companies on his phone.

He is at a dining table on the back deck facing the lake, the spa area to his left. The rear of the house faces southeast and this time of the day, the sun is low and beginning its ascent into the sky. Mellow rays penetrate the trees and fronds that line the lawn and separate the properties down to the water three hundred feet away. The mockingbirds are singing. The biscuit on the plate is half eaten and drips with strawberry jam. The Fred Flintstone coffee mug steams with fresh brew. TJ wipes an errant drip of sweetness from his chin with his napkin and his eyebrows go up. Eyeing the listing he laughs at the name on the screen.

Two Rooks and a Castle Real Estate Agency. Serving all of Hillsborough and Polk Counties.

“I like the sound of that.” TJ says as he thumbs the dial icon. After the eighth ring he guesses it’s going to voicemail and is about to click end, when a cheerful voice answers.

“Two Rooks and a Castle. How can we help you today?”

“Hello there. I’d like to speak to your most junior agent, the newest addition to your sales team.”

A pause follows TJ’s request.

“Oh…well I guess that would be me.”

TJ frowns at the phone. As charming as the voice is, it is not a young person.

“And you’re the receptionist too?”

The lady’s laughter is like soft chimes, happy sounds.

“No, I’m just sitting in for a moment.”

TJ usually just says what he’s thinking.

“She had to use the little girl’s room huh?”

“No, actually, he had to use the little boy’s room.”

TJ is amused by her quick quip, the pleasing sound of her voice causes a wide grin.

“Of course, how sexist of me. Please forgive me. The reason I called is that I’d like to sell my house and I want you to sell it for me. What’s your name?”

“Louisa. And what’s yours please?”

“People call me TJ.”

“Just a second TJ, the other lines are ringing. Can I call you back in about ten minutes?

“Sure, number here is 234-555-9876.”

“Where is your property located TJ?”

“Sheldon’s Lake.”

TJ hears the faint gasp as reality of the location sets into Louisa’s mind. Her voice has a slight tremor.

“I’ll call you right away TJ…and thank you for calling Two Rooks and a Castle.”

“My pleasure.”


TJ only has time to finish the rest of the biscuit and fetch fresh coffee when his cell rings.

“Hello TJ.”

“Hello Louisa. Thanks for calling me back so promptly. Now when can you come and list the property?”

“If you are free now, I’m only a half hour away.”

“Great, then come on over and bring anything I need to sign.”

He glances at his watch.

“It’s almost nine thirty now, so around ten then? The address is 200 Waterfowl Way.”

“Perfect, I’ll see you soon. Thank you TJ.”

He hates to hang up. He likes the sound of her voice. He tries to imagine what she looks like.

“Yes, yes, see you shortly.”


Placing the cell on the table he sits back. Smiling to himself, he decides the dreamlike voice probably comes from a short bearded lady, two yards wide. If he let his imagination drift, he sees her as a tall Brunette, cinnamon eyes with flowing hair, long legs and the shortest skirt. Shaking the thought away he tells himself no more women until he settles back into New Brunswick. He plans on leaving as soon as possible. Pushing his chair back he gathers plate, napkin and cup and mutters to himself.

“Need to make that bed and straighten the hot tub deck before she gets here.”


TJ is tossing the empty scotch bottle in the recycle bin in his garage. The large two car door is open to the driveway and street. His 1970 Chevy Nova sits in the left bay. The right bay is open and his Ford F150 is in the driveway. Before he shuts the door a mint green Jeep Cherokee pulls in the driveway and parks beside the truck. If this is the real estate agent, the woman sitting at the wheel is not what TJ was expecting. Even from a distance the smile is perfect. He walks out the receding garage door to greet his visitor. TJ reaches to open her door.  He`s mesmerized.

The lady getting out of the car is as tall as he is, slim and lithe, the way she moves reminds him of a dancer. A slender chin and fine nose make her smile even more delightful. Short auburn curls in a stylish cut compliment her happy eyes.  Silver looped earrings and a matching pendant glisten on her soft skin. She`s a beautiful woman. He guesses her to be close to fifty-five. Her voice is more pleasing, sexier than on the phone. TJ gets goosebumps.

`You sir are a gentleman. I’m Louisa Bourque.  Are you TJ Parker?”

TJ steps back, pleasure gleaming from his eyes.

“I am but I don’t think I mentioned my last name.”

Louisa Bourque likes the confidence in the man’s eyes, the cockiness in his grin and is immediately drawn to him.

“Well, with the property lists available to us, it was easy to attain your last name. I hope you don’t mind but the information is public. Just give me a second please and I’ll grab my briefcase from the back seat.”

While she is doing so, TJ comments on her familiar last name.

“I don’t know any Bourque’s in Florida but there were many where I grew up.”

The smile is genuine when she faces him. Her hands hold her briefcase in front. Black slacks and the black open-toed shoes have a white bow on the front A beige lace blouse over a dark camisole heightens her light tan. Her briefcase is soft brown leather. There is no wedding band. TJ is awestruck. She turns her head slightly when she speaks to him.

“I don’t think you would know them, my parents are originally from Canada.”

TJ perks up.

“Where abouts in Canada?”

Louisa is struck by the memory of her childhood visits to her grandparents in the summers.

“Small communities in New Brunswick. My father is from Shediac and my mother is from South Branch.”

Three months later TJ is standing on the doorstep to a modest condo on Makaikai Street in Mililani, Hawaii. He knocks on the door. It’s not even 8 a.m. and the sun is at his back. The rays are almost as bright as his disposition. There is no answer and he knocks again, only harder. Several minutes go by until the door opens and Wilmot is standing there. Disheveled hair, needing a shave, white tee shirt and baggy pajama bottoms. He’s in a bad mood from being awakened so early and is ready to blast the visitor until he sees TJ posing there with a face splitting smile and a ravishing lady at his side.

“TJ, what a surprise. What are you doing here?”

“Wilmot, I want you to be my best man!” 
Thank you for visiting today. Hope you enjoyed the story and meeting TJ. Please feel free to leave a comment below.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

TJ & The Real Estate Lady by allan hudson

One of my favorite characters is TJ. He's been in two of my short stories already. You met him first in the Two Grumpy Old Men Café and then in the Finale of the Two Grumpy Old Men Café

A perpetual playboy. Swears he'll never get married. Now that the café belongs to someone else, what is he up to?

Read Part 1 of TJ's latest escapades in

TJ & the Real Estate Lady.

TJ Parker. A 72 year old playboy bored out of his skull. Bubbles frothing at his back, the water roils about his naked body that soaks in the hot tub. Arms spread in each direction, elbows on the cedar, a stress ball shaped like a breast in one hand and a glass half full of golden glory in the other. The bottle of aged Lagavulin is only inches away, albeit almost empty. Another several inches away is a second glass, lipstick smeared and empty.  Beads of perspiration dot his skin like pebbles that melt and runaway. Steam billows from the seven hundred and fifty gallons of heated water. TJ is staring at the rising vapor as it hits the ceiling of the cedar overhang of his deck and disperses randomly before evaporating. It reminds him of his relationship with Wilmot and Taffy, his best friends, and how it sort of dissipated almost a year ago. His eyes lose focus.

The three of them, Wilmot Parker (no relation) and Taffy Fitzsimons ran a not-for-profit eatery. In fact, under a drunken stupor in this very hot tub a few years ago, yanging to each other about having too much time on their hands, they hatched a plan to open a diner style restaurant for breakfast only. Closes at 11am sharp every day, they’d all still have their afternoons, Wilmot to golf, TJ to write his novels of erotica and Taffy to support the thrift shops. All retired and financially sensible they didn’t need the money. Taffy didn’t want to be involved in any ownership but she’d help anyway she could.

Wilmot was a financial advisor during his career as well as an outstanding chef. He’d do the cooking. TJ was the talker, he’d serve and whatever. Taffy wanted to be a waitress. They giggled at every suggestion until Wilmot would get them back on track. Two hours of banter, another half bottle of scotch, they came up with a plan. They’d buy their own building, big windows and old brick, somewhere not far from a beach. TJ was a building contractor previously and would supervise the work. Soft homey colors (Taffy’s idea, the boys wanted red and black). Big black and white photos of famous Canadians hanging on the walls. TJ’s scrumptious biscuits, every patron gets one whether they want it or not. They’d cover the costs and give the rest to charity, likely the homeless. Thus, the Two Grumpy Old Men Café was born. The food would be delicious and the grumpiness would be free.

Remembering the last time he saw them six months ago when Wilmot asked him to be his best man. A trip to Hawaii was worth every penny, a great time reminiscing, meeting Taffy’s family and finding comfort in the arms of her cousin Luanda was worth the trip alone. He had thought about asking her to come to Florida with him but he talked himself out of it, he wasn’t much for long term relationships. The old joke of too many women and too little time is wearing thin and he’ll have to think of some other explanation when people ask him why he is still single.

His thoughts are disturbed by the returning of his guest.  She reaches over to place a dish of oysters, cheese and crackers on the wood shelf by the whisky. TJ had prepared it earlier, forgotten on the coffee table. Her breast sways teasingly close to his lips when she bends over.

“Here sweetie, you must be famished, we haven’t eaten since we had the pasta at Nevio’s and it’s almost midnight.”

She sticks her finger under his chin to tilt his head up.

“And doesn’t all this wonderful activity make you hungry…you tiger.”

When she says this, she reaches into the water to rub his chest amongst the bubbles.  She must’ve found an on switch. Something in the water quickens.

“Oh my!”

TJ is smirking, rather proud of his libido. The green eyes suggest that it’s no big deal. He takes a swig of the whiskey. Tossing the stress ball he grins at his guest.

“You getting back in?”

She clasps her hand to her chest. The wet one drips tiny droplets on her tummy that run down her nakedness. Amanda Waycross is no floosy.  At sixty five, widowed, a night of unimaginable sex and discovery is no common event. Not one given to a lark, allowing this charming, handsome man to seduce her was the best thing that happened to her in years. She can’t remember how many times she came. She waves him off.

“Oh no way Jose, I can barely walk as it is. That thing should be registered as a weapon. I’m hoping we can do it again but not tonight honey. You know I have to leave soon. The grand kids are being dropped off at seven and I don’t want to miss a day with those rascals. Would you like to join us?”

The eyebrows question him. Reaching up to secure her ponytail, her small breasts are pear shaped and so lovely that TJ is tempted. Not one for children, he tries to avoid such encounters.

“Tomorrows not good Amanda, I…I think I’m going to be busy.”

Disappointment causes a frown, she can read between the lines.

“Sure TJ. I’m just going to get my things from the bedroom and…”

She looks around at the deck and pool area and back at TJ unmoving in the tub.

“…and the deck and the hammock...”

They both start laughing, TJ quiet with shoulders moving, Amanda with a soft chuckle. Bending over the edge of the tub that comes to mid-thigh, she holds his head in her hands, brushing his long hair back behind his ears. Glassy eyes express her pleasure. She kisses him passionately, thankfully and backs off.

“You’re the best TJ. Call me sometime if you want.”

She leaves. A few minutes later he hears the hum of her Audi, the crunching of the tires on the fine stone gravel of his driveway. Stretching out his arm, he tips the neck of the bottle to refill his glass. Less than an ounce dribbles from its brown throat. He shakes it hopefully a couple of times.  That’s it! The bottle teeters a bit when replaced on the cedar almost falling into the water. When he pivots his elbow to grab at it his forearm knocks the last of the finest scotch in the house into the suds, glass and all. The liquor makes a brief brownish stain for several seconds. His eyes bug out. He’d like to curse, he wanted that one last slow burn and besides, the friggin’ stuff is over five dollars an ounce.


He shakes it off and leans back. Grabbing his smart phone, his thumb makes it tweet a dozen times and he sets it back down. Only a second goes by until “Kitty LaRoar” comes softly from overhead speakers. She’s halfway through Skylark, the words as beautiful as her voice. Closing his eyes, the jazz meets the scotch buzz and they get acquainted. Soon lulled into a partial comatose state, his memory drifts back to the last thing they all agreed on. Wilmot made them repeat it all together when they staggered out of the tub.

“Anyone wants out, all they have to do is say so. No hard feelings.”

He can still see Taffy and Wilmot sitting across from him after closing one Friday eleven months ago, arms intertwined staring at each other all lovey-like. He still can’t believe it. Said they were getting married and moving to Hawaii, on Oahu where Taffy was brought up, leaving in less than a week. What a shock, they’d been dating behind his back knowing he would be teasing them in front of the patrons. They reminded him of the agreement they’d made and they wanted out, good friends and all.

Now the Open Heart Home owns the café receiving it debt free, full title at no charge, their largest donation by far. It’s manned by three people that actually were homeless at one time.TJ trained all the staff, helped Edward Bancroft, often referred to in his former life as Twenty five Cent Eddie, get off the streets using his background in cooking. Clean for 11 months, a resurrection of his culinary skills from his former diner jobs has made him the star of the store. Bertha and Beulah do the waiting and cleanups.

TJ only has one more meeting with his lawyers to finalize the agreement. After that, there will be nothing to keep him busy other than his abnormal pursuit of the opposite sex. Grinning at this thought, he speaks to the rising steam.

“Even that is getting old hat. Damn, I’m not getting any younger and I should be a little fussier than I have been. I guess they can’t all be as sexy as Amanda. It’s taking more scotch to get the available ladies looking good enough. And the last time I looked in the mirror, I expect that some of the ladies feel the same way. What the dickens am I going to do with the rest of my life?”
Thanks for visiting folks. I'll post part 2 next week. Hope you can drop by for the rest of the story.
Tell me what you think of TJ?