The Discarded Knife.
Well, he knew it was going to be a little strange, after having been out of circulation for so long. He was a complete newcomer to the virtual world of searching for a partner. But number 6 Laurel Crescent was becoming a lonely place, and he'd resolved to do something about it.
He had settled on a website called-'Eternal Bliss. com.
He liked their strap-line "'Lasting happiness, guaranteed for six months.'
On this occasion he had picked out a lady called Olga. They'd arranged, by e-mail, to meet up at a
'Starbucks Coffee Shop'; the one opposite the Globe theatre on The South bank.
It was years since he'd been into town, and he thought it would be a good opportunity to have a look around,and to take a walk across the Thames.
He got off the train at Blackfriars and strolled along until he arrived at the approach to the Millennium Bridge. He looked up at St. Paul's' and thought, hmm, a lot cleaner than the last time I was here.
As he crossed the river he mused, not exactly 'The silver streaming Thames'of poetic fame, more of a muddy swirl.
Nevertheless, it was an uplifting sight. With pleasure boats, tugs and commercial traffic busily plying their trade.
When he got to 'Starbuck's' he went in and ordered a coffee. He picked out a table for two, and sat down facing the road. After about ten minutes his date entered the restaurant. She was wearing short leather trousers, knee-length boots and a floral blouse with puffed sleeves. Her blonde hair was arranged in a long plait, which went down her back, as far as her waist.
She looked nervously round the room, until her eyes met his. He stood up. She came to his table, smiled and said, in a slight east European accent- "Hallo I'm Olga."
Great to meet you, I'm Peter. He extended his right arm, for the customary handshake.
She had a grip that could turn finger-bones to chalk dust. Trying hard not to show how much pain he was in, he said, in a squeaky voice-
What would you like to drink?
I'll have a coffee please."
He went to the counter and returned with the drinks; carrying them back to table on a tray, using his left hand. His right had not yet recovered from the handshake. When he sat down he turned to her and said-"good journey?"
They chatted: mostly small talk. Hmm, she seems quite nice, he thought. Although, he was a little disconcerted when, during the conversation, she put an exploratory little finger deep into her left nostril.
He fully expected her to pull out a knotted string of coloured handkerchiefs, and wave them triumphantly in the air.
However, this did not happen. She simply picked up a serviette, wiped her finger with it, and threw it back on the table.
He soon found out she loved mountaineering and beer drinking competitions. And had a winner's medal for both, back at her flat in Tooting Bec.
They carried on conversing for another ten or fifteen minutes. But, at the end of it all, he decided they had little in common. So, after the exchange of phone numbers, and the usual insincere promises to call; they went their separate ways.
When he arrived back home, he saw the back of a policeman standing outside his front door. The P.C. was talking to the women who lived either side.
He heard the officer say-"Can I just check? You think it was a man, or possibly a well-built woman, sort of running away at a walking pace. And you think he, or she, was carrying something under their arm? Is that correct?"
"That's right," said number eight, and number four nodded in agreement.
Then one of them pointed over his shoulder at Peter.
"He's the man who lives here," she said.
"Good evening sir, glad you're here. These two ladies reported hearing what sounded like a gunshot, coming from your house. "Is your partner at home?"
"Huh"' said number four, just loud enough to make herself heard.
As if to say- why don't you tell him she left you for another woman?
He knew what she was thinking but he ignored her and told the P.C-"No, I live alone, except for my dog, that is."
His ex. and he had quarrelled bitterly over ownership of the pooch, but he had, at least, won that particular battle.
"Okay, perhaps we'd better have a look. Could you let me in?
He put his key in the lock, opened the door and the officer carefully pushed at it. "Better stay behind me, sir." He then entered the kitchen, found the light switch and peered round the room. "Nothing untoward here," he muttered.
He moved cautiously past the sink, and as he did, his foot made contact with the knife. He tore a strip from the kitchen roll, and used this to pick it up.
"No blood on it.," said the policeman. Peter looked at it and said- "that's not one of mine," and he pointed to the full knife-rack, on the working top.
He then called out 'Cuddles' 'Cuddles'.
"Beg you pardon, sir!" "Oh, that's the name of my poodle, he usually barks when he hears the front door key." This is very worrying."
"Ah", I see."
"Let's look in here, shall we?" he said, as they entered the living room.
"What's that door?
"That's my bedroom."
"You stay here then, and I'll investigate."
He opened the door slowly, and went in. There was a pause, then a muted 'woof.'
He entered the room, and was overjoyed to see the constable cradling 'Cuddles' in his arms.
"Your dog seems to be fine," said the officer. "However, there seems to have been a frenzied attack on your inflatable doll."
"Peter gazed in horror at the shredded remains of 'Mitzi',
"I think that explains the 'gunshot', don't you? Said the P.C. imitating a downward stabbing movement with his right hand. Peter nodded in agreement.
"Should I make out an official complaint, sir?"
"No, don't bother, I've got another one in the wardrobe," he said.