Category: Martinus mendax

Martinus mendax part 7

In September 2015, I wrote a short piece I called ‘Assimilated‘. A short while later, I wrote a sequel titled ‘You have nothing to fear, but …‘, which I produced in response to a challenge at esthernewtonblog.wordpress.com that asked for a story about fear.

Using those as a start-point, we now follow Victor’s adventures after his exposure to Martinus mendax.

Let’s run with this for a few weeks, to see where it takes us.

I will welcome storyline suggestions or even complete scenes, as long as they fit the overall scheme (which I hope will emerge before too long).

Catch up on earlier episodes of Martinus mendax at this link

I felt sure, given Jim’s implied challenge, that Martin would have me do something to Jack and Jill, Gina’s Jack Russells. I was equally sure that it wouldn’t end well for those two noisy, bad-tempered, quarrelsome dogs. Against that, experience showed me that Martin was often wont to do exactly the opposite of what I expected him to do. Thinking about it: it wasn’t really the dogs’ fault. Jack Russells are just like that.

I decided to take some action. You know by now, that when I said that I had decided to take some action, the chances are very strong that it was not I, but Martin, who took the initiative. I popped around to Gina’s house and knocked on the door. Jack and Jill went mad. Gina opened the door, and invited me in. I immediately gave the two dogs a treat.

“I want to do this a few times every day, Gina,” I said.

“Do what?” she asked.

“Knock on your door and give your pups a treat.”

““What for?””

“Because,” I explained, “I want to desensitise them to a knock on the door. That way, they won’t go wild every time someone comes.”

“They’re alright once I let people in,” she said, “they’re just letting me know that someone is there. I don’t always hear it and I don’t want one of those awful bell things everyone else in the street has.”

“No problem. Let me get them not to bark, but to come and find you when there’s a knock on the door.”

“Can they do that?”

“Gina. Jack Russells are highly intelligent dogs. With the right training, there’s no limit to what they can do – within their physical capabilities, of course.”

For a couple of weeks, I worked with the dogs. At the end of it, they were still going ballistic when Jim arrived whistling, but not when someone knocked on the door. When they heard that, they ran to Gina, who by then, always carried a supply of treats of a type that wouldn’t make the dogs put on weight.

The next job was Jim. It was his whistling that triggered them, not his knock on the door. Jim offered to stop whistling, but we didn’t want that. We wanted the dogs to change their reaction to the trigger, to modify their behaviour, not the other way around.

“I’m doing some work with Gina’s dogs, Jim,” I said one morning, “I want you to carry on exactly as normal, with one small change.”

“What’s the change?” he asked. I gave him a packet of treats; the same type Gina had started using.

“When you come to Gina’s house, whistle as normal, and knock on the door. Do that even if you have no mail for Gina. Once you’ve knocked on the door, open it and walk in.”

“What? Have you taken leave of your senses? Those dogs are wild.”

“No, Jim. Those dogs are noisy. They have no history of biting anyone. Ever.”

“Okay, so I open the door and walk in; then what?”

“Then you give Jack and Jill a treat each, fuss them, talk to Gina and quietly leave again. I’ll lay good money that, within a fortnight, they won’t bark when they hear you whistling, or when you knock on the door. Once they no longer bark at you, it will be okay to go straight past the house if there’s nothing to deliver.”

“If that works, Vic, I’ll owe you a pint or twelve.”

“I’ll be surprised if it doesn’t work. The timescales might be optimistic, but I think they’re achievable, and I’m sure the method is sound. I aim to go back to France for a bit, once we’ve got this settled.”

“Okay, Vic, but I didn’t know you were such an expert on dogs.”

“I’m not, Jim. I’ve had some good guidance from someone who seems to know what he’s doing. The main thing is Gina can come out of it with a pair of dogs that are calmer and better balanced, and you come out of it having lost the frantic barking you’ve had to put up with. In fact, everybody wins, there will be no losers.”

Martinus mendax part 6

In September 2015, I wrote a short piece I called ‘Assimilated‘. A short while later, I wrote a sequel titled ‘You have nothing to fear, but …‘, which I produced in response to a challenge at esthernewtonblog.wordpress.com that asked for a story about fear.

Using those as a start-point, we now follow Victor’s adventures after his exposure to Martinus mendax.

Let’s run with this for a few weeks, to see where it takes us.

I will welcome storyline suggestions or even complete scenes, as long as they fit the overall scheme (which I hope will emerge before too long).

Catch up on earlier episodes of Martinus mendax at this link

I had to get rid of what was in the boot of the car. But where, and how? Martin will know, I thought. I was damned if I was going to start summoning him, though, even when he could be useful. That was the first step on a very slippery slope.

It was a pleasant day outside, if a little cool, so I kept the car’s hood down. I donned my tweed jacket and matching flat cap, pulled on my string-backed leather driving gloves to complete the 70s look, and got into the car. I started the engine, appreciating the throaty roar from its exhaust, drove out of the garage and turned left at the road. Seven junctions later, I was heading west, toward open country; as much as there is such a beast in south-eastern England. The mp3 player in the car was pumping out some of my favourite smooth jazz tracks and I was enjoying the wind on my face, the smells of the country filling my nostrils and some relaxing music pampering my ears.

I had recently given a lot of thought to the presence of my ‘visitor’. I had no control over his decisions; quite the opposite, in fact. It was he controlling mine. I had no intention of inviting him into my consciousness, although I recognised that the very act of thinking about him probably sent him exactly the message I was aiming to avoid him getting. I couldn’t control it, but over time, I was beginning to recognise when decisions were mine, and when they were his.

I wasn’t taking much notice of where I was going; I was just enjoying the drive. When I entered one of the largest areas of ancient woodland in the region, I knew the decision wasn’t mine. I drove for some distance, finally coming to a stop in a clearing off the beaten track. I instinctively knew that this is where I needed to dig a pit big enough and deep enough to bury my load to keep it from prying eyes. I dug for almost two hours, until I was sure I had done enough, opened the boot of the car, uncovered and carefully lifted out what needed to be hidden. Having lowered it into my pit, I back-filled, covering it to a reasonable depth, then flattened the soil and covered it with the woodland floor material that was there originally.

I cleaned my shovel, put it in the boot of the car and drove back onto the track. Leaving the car, I returned to the scene of the crime on foot, lawn rake in hand and, walking backwards, raked out all trace of car tyre tracks and my own footprints. If anyone did come across what I had buried I didn’t want to make it easy for them to trace it back to me.

***

The following morning, I was awakened just before seven o’clock by Gina’s Jack Russells declaring war on, presumably, a Royal Mail employee. I threw on my bath robe and descended the stairs, hoping to see who it was. There was a knock on the door.

I opened it.

“Didn’t expect to see you,” I said.

“Why not, Vic,” Jim replied, “didn’t you see my note? I told you I would only be away for one day. My mum’s in hospital, not at all well. Said she needed to see me urgently, so I had to rush off straight after work.”

“I haven’t looked at yesterday’s mail yet, Jim. Was it in there?”

“Should have been.”

“What’ve you got for me today?”

“Nothing, Vic. I just wanted to thank you for getting rid of that ugly sculpture that’s been in your front garden for ages. Where is it now?”

“Let’s just say it’s gone the way of all gnomes, Jim, shall we?” Vic replied, and started to laugh.

Jim joined him. “As long as it’s gone. Apart from being an affront to good taste, I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve nearly tripped over it on dark winter mornings. Now, if we could get Gina’s dogs to shut up, my life would be complete.”

“Is that a challenge, Jim?”

Jim chuckled and started to walk away. He turned, a wry smile on his face. “Or an assignment…” he said.

Martinus mendax part 5

In September 2015, I wrote a short piece I called ‘Assimilated‘. A short while later, I wrote a sequel titled ‘You have nothing to fear, but …‘, which I produced in response to a challenge at esthernewtonblog.wordpress.com that asked for a story about fear.

Using those as a start-point, we now follow Victor’s adventures after his exposure to Martinus mendax.

Let’s run with this for a few weeks, to see where it takes us.

I will welcome storyline suggestions or even complete scenes, as long as they fit the overall scheme (which I hope will emerge before too long).

Catch up on earlier episodes of Martinus mendax at this link

The mail arrived late this morning.

For years, I have had no need for an alarm clock. The arrival of the postman; we’ve had the same chap for as long as I can remember; set next door’s pair of Jack Russells off into a barking frenzy that lasted until Gina (their owner) came down to stop them. As far as I could gather, Jill, the female, started barking at the sound of postie’s footsteps, and Jack, the male, joined in. His barking caused her to bark louder, which had the same effect on him, and they fed off each other in a self-sustaining barkfest of increasing volume until Gina appeared and shouted, louder than the pair of them, a single command – S T F U D. That was my cue to get up. I always had an idea what STFUD stood for, but had you heard her voice when she yelled that command,  a few minutes after 7am every day except Sundays, and felt the paper-thin walls between our houses vibrate with the sheer volume and vehemence of it, you probably wouldn’t have wanted to ask, either.

Last week, though, I decided [I? That’s a laugh] to brave the assault and ask. I called over the fence and asked her what STFUD meant. She told me, in a sweet, genteel and modest voice as befits the elderly widow of a career diplomat. I blushed. Something inside me sniggered.

This morning, a new delivery person brought the mail. That she was a woman made no difference to me; that she didn’t arrive until just before ten o’clock did. I opened the door as she approached, intending to greet her, and perhaps make her feel a bit appreciated. I said intended. What happened was somewhat different.

“You’re new,” I said.

“Not really,” she replied, cheerfully, “I’ve been doing this job for more than five years, but I’m new to this route.”

“Where’s Jim?” [Subtle, eh?]

“Haven’t you heard?” she asked.

“Of course, I know the full story” I [Martin] replied, sarcastically, then snapped, “You stupid woman! If I knew, I wouldn’t be asking you where he is, would I?”

“There’s no need to bark at me, Mr Sullivan,” she said, unapologetically. “Jim never got home after his shift yesterday.”

“What happened?”

“No-one knows. He just didn’t make it home. There’s no sign of him anywhere; it’s as if he just disappeared, poof!”

“Has anyone tried his mobile? Perhaps he’s off visiting somewhere.”

“That’s the first thing the bosses though of. No reply.”

“So is this going to be your regular time now?”

“Assuming Jim doesn’t come back and I’m put on this round, yes.”

“Jim was always here at seven.”

“I’m not Jim. Here’s your mail, Mr Sullivan,” she said, handing me a small pile of envelopes and turning to walk away.

“What do I call you?” I shouted after her.

“You don’t,” she replied, “I call you.” I noticed her shoulders undulating with barely suppressed laughter as she walked off.

I closed the door, tossed the mail onto the telephone table and went through the side door leading to my garage, which was on the opposite side of the house to the wall I shared with Gina. In the garage was an old two-seater sports car that I had inherited along with the house. I opened the boot and checked under the blanket. Good. It was still there. I would decide later how to deal with it. Opening the garage door, I walked though to my driveway and saw Gina across the fence, and the new post woman walking away.

“Vic,” Gina called, “what do you think about this Jim business?”

“We don’t know what’s happened to him yet, do we?” I asked.

“Funniest thing though,” she said, “Jack and Jill didn’t bark at Marie.”

“Oh, is that her name? She wouldn’t tell me.”

“She said you were rude to her, and that’s why she wouldn’t tell you her name.”

“How long have you known me, Gina?”

“Twenty years, give or take.”

“Have you ever known me to be rude?”

“Never.”

“There’s something rum about that Marie,” I suggested, “turning up three hours late, then accusing me of being rude. Something’s not right.”

“Let’s see how she settles in, shall we?”

“If she settles in,” I replied, “Don’t you think Jim’s coming back, then?”

“I honestly don’t know, Vic. Well; must get on. You have a good day.”

“You too, Gina,” I replied, walking back into my garage, “You too.”

Back inside the house, I again ignored the mail that Marie had given me. I had other things to think about; things that needed careful consideration and planning.