Author Topic: The Steve letters....  (Read 3285 times)

Offline MidnightZodiac

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The Steve letters....
« on: October 03, 2012, 10:01:26 AM »
After joining the forum back in late July of this year, I was rather overtaken by events in real life and so was unable to post for some while. I work in public transport (Railway Contractor) and so for a while everything was focused on the Olmpics and Paralympics, but now they're over, my lads are allowed time off once again, and this week it's my turn.... hence the number of catch-up posts. Even so I have hardly managed toscratch the surface of the forum and there are many thousands of posts I have yet to read. :D

Anyway, bearing that in mind, I did start a new story a while back based on Steve's progress after Follyfoot.... If you like it, say so.... If you don't, say so too. There are so many good authors on here that I feel almost overawed.

The Steve Letters

Slugger gently knocked on the door of the Colonel’s office. After respectfully waiting for a few seconds, he turned the brass knob that released the panelled door and entered the Colonel’s inner sanctum. “Thought you might like a cuppa and a biscuit” he said, gently laying the round tray on a small clearing on the Colonels’ desk. The Colonel gave a half smile, made all the more difficult by the pipe clenched between his teeth. He laid down his pen and reached for the warm bowl of his briar. “Slugger… You always seem to know just what I need, and just when I need it.”

Slugger eyed the pile of paperwork on the dark polished wood desk. “That’s all you seem to do now sir… If you don’t mind me saying.” The Colonel broke into a broad grin, and with his pipe, pointed to the large, framed, black and white photos that adorned the wall of his study, “Do you remember those days Sluggs?” he asked. Slugger examined one picture in particular… a picture that showed the Colonel being handed a trophy by a very young Queen Elizabeth. “Oh yes, I remember those days Colonel; living out of a suitcase, sleeping in ‘orseboxes and boarding houses. Buying ‘orse an ‘ound every week to see your name in print. We were never ‘ome, competing here, competing there, racing, jumping, point to points, shows….” Slugger’s voice trailed away as he relived the memories; memories of a life that some days he missed, while on others he was more than a little glad to see the back of.

The Colonel leaned back in his chair “You know, I thought when I bought Follyfoot, we’d both have a quiet, peaceful retirement, just like the horses that live here… But it seems that no matter where you hide, paperwork always finds you.” Slugger turned away from the pictures and chided the Colonel, “Paperwork he says, paperwork… If you’d take a little advice, you’d get out and spend some time with those ‘orses. It’d do you more good than sitting behind that desk.” The Colonel suddenly turned very serious and stared Slugger straight in the eye, “Have you seen Dora this morning?” Slugger’s heart sank. He’d known well before delivering the Colonel’s elevenses that the subject of Dora would arise. “No Colonel, I ‘aven’t…. I ‘eard her moving about in the kitchen in the early hours and thought she was getting something to eat. But truth be told there was ‘ardly anything missing from the larder this morning, and she never appeared for breakfast either.”

The Colonel seemed to sink further into the padding of his chair, “It’s a bad business Slugger, a bad business. And to make matters worse, I feel entirely responsible… Perhaps I should have never…” Slugger, true as always to the Colonel, interrupted and defended him straight away “No Colonel, it wasn’t your fault… You gave her a choice about running Follyfoot, you never forced her to take it on. Besides, to be honest, up until a couple of weeks before she got rid of Steve, she was doing a damn good job…” The Colonel relit his briar pipe and took a deep draw of the aromatic tobacco, “You only see the good in her don’t you Slugger? As you do in me, as you always do in me.” With a half smile he turned his attention back to the pile of papers on his desk, before sitting upright with a start. “Oh, that reminds me.” He sorted through the morning’s pile of post, “Where is it… ah yes, here we are Slugger, a letter for you.”

The Colonel handed the envelope to Slugger, who immediately recognised the handwriting, even though it was partly covered by the stamp that appeared to have been  stuck on as an afterthought. “Thank You Colonel” Slugger replied, slipping the envelope into his back pocket, “Now if you’ll excuse me, that stew won’t make itself… A woman’s work is never done.” The Colonel smiled, shook his head, and went back to his pile of paperwork.

By the time Slugger went to bed it was pitch black outside his bedroom window, but his bedside light cast a warm, welcoming glow around the room. It had been a long day; made all the longer by Dora’s continued refusal to appear and help with the horses, and the fact that the unopened letter was burning a hole in his pocket. Finally, when he was sure that both the house and farm were deathly still and quiet, he started to open the envelope as with as little noise as he could possibly make. ’What do you think you are, a spy?’ he thought as he realised how ridiculous it all was. But even so, he still felt somewhat like a naughty schoolboy, as he removed several sheets of paper and gently laid them on his bed., before picking up his glasses and starting to read.
"We shape horses, then they shape us, but, we must be what we want our horses to become."

Offline MidnightZodiac

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Re: The Steve letters....
« Reply #1 on: October 03, 2012, 10:06:11 AM »
“Dear Sluggs,

Funny isn’t it, all the time I’ve known you and I still have no idea of your first name. But I guess that’s what Follyfoot does to you, makes you become a part of the secrets and lies that are the real power at the farm.
 
I know it’s been nearly three months since I was asked to leave by Dora; but to tell the truth, I’ve been so full of anger and bile that it wouldn’t have been safe for me to have written before, I’d have only ended up saying things in the heat of the moment that I didn’t really mean. To be fair to the girl, she did give me nearly five weeks wages before I left, and while I was grateful for the money part of me thinks it should have been spent on caring for the horses.

When I left the farm, I’d only gone a few miles when I came across two girls with a broken down Mini. I soon got their car going for them and they offered me a lift. Turns out they were students at a university near Liverpool, and for a while I was tempted to go back there with them, find my mum and give her another chance. But then I thought at best she’d only be interested as long as I had that money in my pocket, and once that ran out, so would she… the story of my life. So they dropped me off at the motorway and I decided to head South to places I’ve never been before.

I waited ages for a lift, then a bloke in an estate car picked me up. He was a sales rep for an office supplies company and talked about nothing but typewriters with golf balls. I was completely lost physically and mentally. Anyway we got chatting about my work and I told him I was a freelance groom, looking for horse work anywhere in the country. Then he surprised me by saying that a wealthy  neighbour of his in Hertfordshire had two horses but didn’t know one end from the other. So he drove me right to her front door, and introduced me. I started that night, the day after leaving Follyfoot.

Turns out this lady and her husband had a massive pools win, and bought all the things they thought would make them happy. Big car, caravan, house with land, stables and horses. All the things that they believed people in their position should have. Shortly after they moved in, the husband dropped dead from a heart attack, leaving her a very rich widow, but completely unable to cope on her own. Anyway, along with the job she offered me a room in the house, but I said that I’d be more comfortable in the caravan, from where I can see the stables and the horses, so she agreed to that.

I soon had the horses and stables licked into shape, it wasn’t hard and only took me a couple of days. Most of the days are my own, only having two horses to care for morning and afternoon doesn’t really take a lot of effort. Sometimes we ride out, but she’s so nervous I have to ride one horse and have hers on a lead rope, just in case it runs away with her. Then she started to offer my services to some of her friends, and now I instruct and ride out with them several days a week. A couple have suggested some private lessons, but I’ve told them that I’m only here to provide lessons in horse care, nothing else. All in all life’s not too bad. I have money, a roof over my head, a charming employer and a job I quite enjoy, even though it doesn’t involve helping tired and unwanted horses. But you can’t have everything.

The only problem I see is that the Governess, as I call her, seems to have a lot of gentleman callers, but reading between the lines I think they’re more interested in the contents of her bank account than they are in her. She likes the attention, but I don’t think she’s clever or strong enough to sort out the wheat from the chaff so to speak. At times I think that, despite her wealth, her future is even more uncertain than mine. But, I’m only here to care for the horses, not her, and I don’t want to get involved… that’s the main lesson that my time at Follyfoot taught me. Don’t get involved.

I hope Follyfoot’s OK, along with all the horses, though I expect that Dora’s replaced me and filled the place with lots more horses by now. The girls’ heart is in the right place, but she just doesn’t have any horse sense. And I hope that Ron’s pulling his weight, along with Callie and Hazel. What can I say about the Colonel, you know I’ll always be grateful to him for the chance he gave me after that Night Rider business at the Squire’s place, but I don’t really know how to write to him and let him know how I truly feel. It’s important to me that I can somehow let him know that I am so grateful for the trust he put in me, even when everyone else doubted my word.

 I miss you all, and while I have a little transistor for company, some of the nights are very long.

It might be best if you kept this letter a secret, I don’t want you to be seen as being in cohorts with the enemy, but if you do have time, it would be nice to hear from you. I have put my address at the top of the letter.

Your mate,

Steve."



 
"We shape horses, then they shape us, but, we must be what we want our horses to become."

Offline MidnightZodiac

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Re: The Steve letters....
« Reply #2 on: October 03, 2012, 06:48:56 PM »
The letter un-nerved Slugger far more than he ever thought possible. One the one hand he felt an incredible sense of loyalty to the Colonel and Dora; he knew in his heart that his entire life, the comfortable surroundings and pay packets were entirely due to them, but, at the same time he also felt that he should answer Steve’s letter. At least let the boy know that whatever had happened between him and Dora, hadn’t affected the relationship that he had with Steve when he was part of Follyfoot.

The early sun shone through the farmhouse kitchen window, lighting up Slugger’s washing up as he stood over the sink. ’It’s now or never’ he finally thought as he put down the plate he was cleaning, and slipped off his bright yellow rubber gloves. With a heavy heart he knocked on the Colonel’s office door and entered, staring quietly at the Colonel as he attended to his pile of paperwork. “Hello Slugger, little early with the elevenses aren’t we?” Slugger let out a sigh, then told the Colonel that this was a personal matter, a matter that was troubling him greatly.

At the Colonel’s invitation, Slugger sat down in the chair on the opposite side of the Colonel’s desk. It was the padded chair reserved for the Colonel’s visitors; mostly those who had come to complain about Follyfoot’s  habit of getting involved in other people’s horsey business. While the chair was more than comfortable, Slugger felt ill at ease. He reached into his pocket, pulled out the crumpled letter and offered it to the Colonel. “It’s about this letter that came for me the other day…..” Slugger’s voice trailed away as the Colonel took the letter and started to read. Half way through he relit his pipe, took a deep draw, then returned his attention to the letter. “Well” he started “It’s good to hear that the boy’s managed to find work.” As he read the final part his cheeks glowed slightly red as he grew embarrassed at Steve’s words about him.

“The thing is” started Slugger “ I didn’t know whether to show you or not… After all, Steve’s gone now and if you’d found out about this, I didn’t want you to think I was being disloyal”. The Colonel took another long draw on his pipe “Slugger there are few things in life a man can rely on, apart from himself. But I do know that in my life, you are one of those few things. I could never, and would never, doubt your loyalty and friendship for an instant.” Slugger relaxed visibly. “Besides” the Colonel carried on “ I don’t have the right to tell you who you should, or should not have as friends.”
“The thing is Colonel, I know that Dora and Steve didn’t part on what we could call good terms did they? And, given her current behaviour I don’t want her to find out about this… That’s why I’ve come to you for advice, so to speak..”  The Colonel shifted slightly in his chair, and to Slugger he seemed to age ten years in an instant. “To be absolutely honest with you Slugger, I think you’ve done the right thing in showing me this, and you’re absolutely correct about keeping it from Dora.” The Colonel paused for a second and looked toward the ceiling, as if searching for some kind of inspiration. Then carefully, as if choosing each word for it’s clarity, he started again. “You know that I gave Dora absolute control over the running of Follyfoot, Oh, I’d interfere and call the vet if, for example, she was out, but basically she has responsibility for all this… “ He motioned with his arm toward the window through which could be seen some of the farm’s buildings and pastures. “I also gave her control over who works with the horses, and whether they should be hired or fired. But deep down I know that she made a big mistake in asking Steve to leave Follyfoot, and, had I not made that promise to her, I would have over-ruled that decision”

The Colonel tapped the bowl of his pipe on the glass ashtray that adorned his desk, knocking out the content of ash and half burnt tobacco. Then refilled the bowl with a fresh charge and relit it. During the silence Slugger made no attempt to speak, he knew deep down that the Colonel had much more to say. This pause wasn’t simply for some dramatic effect. Once the pipe was fully alight the Colonel continued. “Steve was ten times the horseman than Stryker will ever be, he had that indefinable feel for them, he knew instinctively how they were feeling… But, he made Dora feel stifled, threatened if you like… It wasn’t Steve she was afraid of, it was his knowledge and ultimately the fact that she knew deep down that he was usually right, especially when it came to the number of horses that we can properly care for. ” Slugger shifted slightly in his seat, he had never heard the Colonel speak so candidly about Dora, or any other of his relatives, and to a degree the honesty made him slightly uncomfortable.

“Now we have a situation where Dora is very unwell. Slugger, you may have noticed that the Doctor’s car has been here more than a few times lately.” Slugger nodded in response. “Well, the first few times he came at my insistence, but she refused to see him. Then when she finally gave way and allowed him to examine her it was bad news. The thing is Sluggs, the problem isn’t in her body, it’s in her head. He told me that, although it was way out of his experience, he believes she is suffering from a nervous breakdown.” Slugger took a short breath of surprise. “Yes,” said the Colonel, “I was a little surprised too, especially when the Doctor said that all she talks about is cutting down the old trees, and the Queen being in Australia when she went to see her… Anyway, he has recommended that she see’s a psychiatrist at the General Hospital in York, he even said that it might do her good to get away from here for a while and stay in some sort of residential unit where she can be cared for properly.” At that point, Slugger was aware that the only sound he could hear was the rather loud ticking of the clock in the corner of the study.

“So you see Slugger you were absolutely right in keeping that letter from Dora, from the point of view of her health it was the right and proper thing to do.” Slugger was stunned, all he’d wanted was a little advice from the Colonel, instead he was burdened with yet more worries, but he knew that given all the Colonel had one for him, allowing this burden to be shared was the least he could do. “Colonel, what about her parents, I mean…”He struggled for the words. “It’s alright Slugger, I’ve already written to my brother, and as soon as he can he’s going to arrange some leave and fly home. Mind you, in her current state I really don’t think that’s going to do the girl any good at all. Now, about this letter. It’s my belief Slugger, that you should write to Steve, and as far as possible keep in touch with him, so please don’t feel you’re going behind my back. There’s plenty of stationery and stamps in my desk draw, so just take what you need when you need it… I think the very least we can do for the boy is spare a little time and a few sheets of paper. Don’t you?”
"We shape horses, then they shape us, but, we must be what we want our horses to become."

Offline MidnightZodiac

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Re: The Steve letters....
« Reply #3 on: October 05, 2012, 06:13:58 PM »
Slugger was perched at the very top of an old wooden ladder, with a mouthful of nails. He was busy repairing some wind damage to one of the stables, so busy in fact that he neither saw, nor heard the Colonel’s approach. “Morning Slugger, be careful up there won’t you.” It was impossible for him to give a reply, so he merely raised an arm in response, then pointed to the nails in his mouth. “Ah, I see.” smiled the Colonel, “I thought I’d take your advice and get among the horses for a while, care to join me?”

Slugger slipped the hammer into his pocket and gingerly climbed down the ladder until at last, he was back on solid ground. On the way down, he instinctively knew that the Colonel wanted more than just company for a walk; but that just about summed up the Colonel, a very private deep thinking man who, while widely respected and admired in the local community, really had very few true friends with whom he could share his most private and intimate thoughts. Slugger knew that the arrival of Dora, and the keenness with which the Colonel had handed Follyfoot over to her, was almost more for his own benefit than for hers. At least now, the Colonel would have a family member close by that shared his passion for horses, and with whom he could discuss his hopes and fears.

As they walked the Colonel made comments about each of the horses they passed, and each that approached was rewarded with a fluffy mint, drawn from deep within the Colonel’s jacket pocket. Slugger knew that this was just small talk, and that eventually the Colonel would reveal the real reason he had asked for Slugger’s company. They were almost at the edge of the lake before the Colonel revealed what was on his mind. “What sort of a childhood did you have?” Slugger was a little taken aback “Well Colonel,” he started “It was quite good really… Poor mind you, but back in them days all that area of London was poor, so we were just like everyone else; shoes and clothes with holes, football in the street with a tin can, skipping off school to go to the docks… Sometimes the dockers would throw an orange or banana at us before they told us to beat it…. That was the only time we had that sort of fruit.” Slugger paused for breath, his eyes semi glazed as he relived the memories. “Sleeping several to a bed, frost and ice on the inside of our windows.” The Colonel listened intently, then when his friend had finished he asked bluntly “But did you feel wanted and loved?”

“Oh yes Colonel, my mum and dad valued each and every one of us, they went without so that we didn’t.” The Colonel looked him in the eye “Thank you Slugger, that’s a great help to me… but could I ask just one more question of  you old friend, have you ever known fear, real fear?” Slugger took a breath, and let out a sigh as if he was trying to formulate an answer “Fear he says, fear” he started, ”Well my old headmaster at the City Road College for boys was a bit of a tyrant.” The Colonel smiled at Slugger’s  mischief. “But Colonel, you know my background, the ring, the fairground boxing booths… Over the years I’ve fought a lot of very tough and very hard men. Was I in fear, not really. I knew the worst that could happen was a few cuts and bruises and the bitter taste of defeat, so I’ve never really lived in fear of any one man.” Slugger’s tone and voice suddenly dropped “But situations, that’s a different matter. Do you remember Normandy in ‘44. Cut off from the rest, surrounded by Jerries, no supplies, hardly any ammo left and watching the lads get killed one by one…” The Colonel relived the memories too “Yes old friend, I remember that only too well. We thought our number was up, we even exchanged last letters to our families… in case one of us got out alive.” “That’s right Colonel, we did, and in the middle of it all, you crept out and pulled in that Jerry soldier who’d been hit just outside our position… when we took his helmet off he was just a boy, no older than Steve or Ron, you tended to his wound and gave him water and a smoke.” “Some of the men didn’t think that was a good move if I remember Sluggs.” the Colonel reminisced. “No Colonel, they didn’t, but I knew that as always, you’d done the right thing… He was just a boy, should’a still bin taking milk off his mum.” Slugger stared at the ground, “Then he went and died, just a few minutes before that Canadian column with their tanks and full bellies and medics came marching down the road and sent Jerry packing… That’s what I’m afraid of Colonel… Situations that are out of my control. It wasn’t the thought of dying or being taken prisoner, just the thought that my future was in the hands of people I didn’t know, people who didn‘t know me… People who had plans on their mind, but didn’t care how it affected me.”

The Colonel remained silent for a few seconds, then thanked his old friend. “You’ve helped me far more than you’ll ever know.” he said, but Slugger looked him in the eye “This is about Dora isn’t it?”
"We shape horses, then they shape us, but, we must be what we want our horses to become."

Offline MidnightZodiac

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Re: The Steve letters....
« Reply #4 on: October 05, 2012, 06:16:48 PM »
The Colonel leaned on the landing stage that edged the lake, took out his pipe and lit it. “I never could hide anything from you could I?” he started. “The thing is my brother’s spent literally thousands on the girl. From the day she was born she was put straight into the arms of a Nanny, then it was boarding school, finishing school, riding lessons, ballet lessons, the whole kit and caboodle. But, the thing is, her parents were never there for her. Oh, I’m sure she was loved, there were always expensive presents at Birthdays and Christmas, but she was always looked after by someone else. While I find it hard to criticise my brother and his wife, I feel quite strongly that they are more than partly to blame for the current state she’s in. When things were tough she never had anyone to fall back on, so she’s bottled it up over the years, kept it all inside her if you like.” Slugger nodded his agreement as the Colonel continued “You see, while you had nothing, but knew you were loved, she had everything, except what she really wanted and needed, love and attention from her parents.” The Colonel exhaled a cloud of blue smoke and continued “And, your fear of situations is exactly what I’m up against now Sluggs. My brother can’t fly back for about three weeks due to negotiations he’s working on. Meanwhile, the doctor is recommending that Dora is immediately admitted to a psychiatric facility… And the situation? It appears she’s not currently able to agree to treatment herself, so it looks very much like I’m going to have to be the person who signs the consent form to have her treated. If I don‘t he thinks she‘ll be taken away for her own good” 

The two men walked side by side back to the yard, and as they walked the Colonel enquired if Slugger had written back to Steve “I was going to do it tonight Colonel, when the house is quiet like. Do you think I should mention Dora’s illness?” The Colonel thought. “Mmmm, might be a good idea to include it, there’s no reason he shouldn’t know, after all, they were sweet on each other weren’t they?” Slugger smiled “I didn’t think you’d noticed sir.” “Slugger, these may be old eyes, but they’re  still good enough to  tell me what’s going on, and let me read between the lines.”

As the two men parted, Steve Ross was clearing pasture over a hundred miles south. While he forked yet another load into the barrow, he noticed the Governess out of the corner of his eye, waving to attract his attention. “Steve, I’ve just come to let you know that I’m off to Spain for a few weeks. Jeremy’s taking me for a holiday to a villa owned by a friend of his. In fact I’m off to the travel agents now to buy our tickets.” “I thought” said Steve “That you said he was taking you.” The Governess ignored his query and carried on “It’s exciting isn’t it. My first holiday since I was wido… Well you know what I mean. There’s four weeks wages for you in the kitchen, and some money for the horse’s feeds too. If I don’t see you before I go, I’ll send you a post card.” Steve started to ask her about finding someone to remove the muck heap, but by that time she was striding away “I don’t know, ring the pony club or something.”

For the second time in three months, Steve knew that his world was tumbling down around his ears, and taking the muck fork, drove it viciously into the ground. He knew that once this ’Jeremy’ got his claws into her, and her bank account that all this would come to an end. He kicked over the barrow and left it there on the pasture, returned to the caravan that had been his home since leaving Follyfoot and slammed the door shut behind him. He knew now that it was only a matter of time.
"We shape horses, then they shape us, but, we must be what we want our horses to become."

Offline MidnightZodiac

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Re: The Steve letters....
« Reply #5 on: October 10, 2012, 07:17:02 PM »

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The Colonel crept upstairs to see if  Dora was awake. Gently, he pushed open the door to Dora’s bedroom. The girl lay there, deathly pale and thin. Search his brain as he might, he honestly couldn’t remember the last time he’d actually seen her eat. Her eyes were shut, but even this close he couldn’t tell if she was asleep, or had retreated further into herself, using her eyelids to cut off all contact with the outside world. Suddenly he felt the weight of the world pressing down on him, and a tear welled in the corner of his eye. With as much grace as he could manage he sat on the very edge of the bed.

He ran his fingers through Dora’s long dark hair, once so tenderly cared for, now greasy and tangled. And, he had to admit as he sat there, even her very smell had changed. She smelled more like an old lady, hovering on the verge of life and death…gone was Dora’s usual tang of youth, vitality and horses. He toyed with the idea of giving her a wash to freshen her up a little, but realised almost straight away that perhaps that wouldn’t be the best of ideas. After all, even though she was his niece, she was still a young girl, and he was an old man. The 70’s were a time of liberation, but perhaps, he thought, not that liberated. As he stroked her hair, he told her of the horses and how they were being cared for, he talked about Copper, and how good it would be when she was better and could ride him for miles over the fields with the sun on her face and the wind in her hair.

As he stood up to leave, he looked at her one last time, her eyes flickered, and he could just make out a brief, but gentle arc in her lips. Perhaps she had heard and understood his ramblings, and perhaps, just perhaps one day he would get the old Dora back. As he walked back downstairs an idea struck him. Anna Holmes. Despite the fact that she had recently made two visits to the farm to complain to him about the amount of time Callie was spending there,  in preference to doing homework, he wondered if she’d be good enough to come over and give Dora some sort of bed bath. He rang her straight away, and after eating a little humble pie, persuaded her to come and help.

At two o’clock on the dot, the taxi that the Colonel had arranged dropped Mrs Holmes right outside the farmhouse door. Taking her into the kitchen he explained to her the seriousness of Dora’s condition. “My goodness” she said, somewhat surprised. “Callie told me she was ill, but I thought it was just some sort of young lady’s tantrum. I really didn’t know it was that serious.” The Colonel told her that there was no need for apologies, then being totally honest he explained why he needed his help. “Oh Colonel” she said “Just tell me which is her room, and leave the little mite to me.” Anna disappeared for the best part of three quarters of an hour. Downstairs the Colonel could hear the sound of running water, and footsteps between Dora’s room and the bathroom. Several times he was tempted to call and ask if everything was all right, but thought better of it. It was nearly ten to three by the time Anna had finished her work.

The Colonel tried to thank her, but she cut him short “Once a mother, always a mother.” she smiled. “Here, I’ve brought down her nightie and undies ready for the wash, and you might want to do this towel as well, it’s more than a little damp.” They chatted as they waited for the taxi that would take Anna home. “Oh” she suddenly started, “That reminds me, while I was bathing her, Dora kept on repeating the same thing… thought I’d better write it down, just in case it was important.”  She reached into her handbag, and pulled out a small diary, before ripping out one of the back pages and giving it to the Colonel. As he read he noticed with some irony that the page covered that year’s Christmas festivities. Usually a time for families, love and giving. He read Mrs Holmes’ rather spidery writing out loud. “ You tell me of our future that you planned: Only remember me; you understand it will be late to counsel then or pray.” His voice lowered and he continued even though there was no more writing to guide him “Yet if you should forget me for a while and afterwards remember, do not grieve: For if the darkness and corruption leave a vestige of the thoughts that once I had, Better by far you should forget and smile than that you should remember and be sad.” Anna looked at his rather sombre face “Does it mean anything to you Colonel?… You seem to know it.” There was a slight pause “Yes I know it, it’s a poem about death. The last time I spoke those words was when I was reading the eulogy at my mother’s funeral.”

After the taxi had left, he reached for the phone “Hello Doctor, it’s Colonel Maddox here, I’m ready to sign those papers putting Dora into your care…”
 
"We shape horses, then they shape us, but, we must be what we want our horses to become."

Offline MidnightZodiac

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Re: The Steve letters....
« Reply #6 on: October 11, 2012, 06:42:09 PM »
That night was Slugger’s first night alone in the house since Dora’s arrival. To his surprise it disturbed him a little. Not that he was afraid of being alone, just that he had got used to Dora’s company in the evenings when she’d chat to him about her past life, and her hopes for Follyfoot’s future. While she chatted she’d darn her socks or repair holes in one of her jumpers. In fact she’d amazed him with how well she’d adapted from being a diplomat’s daughter to living the life of a poor country girl. She’d end each evening by giving him a little kiss on the top of his head, and thanking him for his help during the day. But that had ended now, after the private ambulance had taken her away to Lord knows what fate. 

He sat behind the Colonel’s desk, and took from the drawer some paper, an envelope and one of the stamps that lay there. He reached for the Colonel’s gold fountain pen, but at the last minute decided that perhaps that might be stretching things a little too far. Instead, he found a cheap blue biro in the desk and started to address the envelope. As he wrote he was really quite impressed, if he said so himself, at the neatness of the writing; neatness he knew that came those endless smacks from the English teacher’s ruler, at the City Road College for Boys. After he had finished the envelope, and attached the stamp, he sat back, preparing himself for the letter he was about to write.
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Re: The Steve letters....
« Reply #7 on: October 11, 2012, 06:47:12 PM »
Dear Steve,

Thank you for your letter, it cheered me upon end to know that you have found a job so soon after leaving here. I have to tell you straight away that I have shown your letter to the Colonel and asked his advice about replying to you. If that makes a difference and you wish to stop writing then I’ll understand. But to be honest I half thought that you wrote those words about the Colonel knowing full well that he would get to see them, perhaps I’m wrong, perhaps I’m not, only time will tell. But I will tell you that he knows you’re ten times the horseman that Ron will ever be, and between you and me mate, he thinks Dora made a mistake in telling you to go.

So much has happened here that it’s a job to know where to start. You remember the Night Riders, well a couple of weeks after you left, they caused havoc at Henderson’s. You know, about a mile up the road past the Squire’s place. But it seems one of Henderson’s horses was made of sterner stuff than others they’ve tormented, and one of the gang ended up being thrown and trampled. He suffered so much damage to his head that he’s still in hospital, and even if he recovers they say he’ll never be right again. Of course, the rest legged it, and left him there and it wasn’t until the morning that he was found by Henderson’s daughter when she went to check the horses. The police found motor bike tyre marks and are still investigating. Lewis said he was out with Ron that night, so they came round and took a statement from him. I only hope for his sake that what he told them matched what Lewis told them, or he’ll be in trouble too for giving a false statement. Ron’s not a bad lad, he just needs to toughen up and turn his back on those that use him so much.

Dora interviewed a couple of people to replace you, but both took a look around the place and never came back, still I suppose that the Follyfoot lifestyle doesn’t suit everybody. Even the offer of my breakfasts and stew dinners wasn’t enough to persuade them that it was worthwhile. Callie is helping out weeknights after school, and most of Saturdays and Sundays. She really has been a little treasure, and doesn’t mind what she’s asked to do, providing it involves horses; another Dora in the making there I think. Thing is, she spends so much time here, that her schoolwork is suffering. Her mum has been here several times to talk things through with the Colonel, but she’s still here night after night. Hazels still got a chip on her shoulder about the Colonel and Dora’s wealth. I know she has a bad background and a rough start in life, but if she could only let go a little she’d see that there are people that would care for her given the chance. She’s still not much use around the horses, but with only Ron to teach her, what else can we expect.

Now I’ve got to get to the worst bit. I don’t want you to worry, and if you don’t care I’ll understand, but Dora’s not at all well. For the first few weeks after you left she was fine. Making plans for the farm, overseeing the new stables and all that. It was extra work without you, but we all pulled together and managed, just. Then she started getting irritable. Not over big things, just small things really. She shouted at me for putting a little too much salt in the stew, she tore Ron off a strip for opening the gate with his bike, she argued with Callie over giving Copper the wrong supper. And then she even screamed at the Colonel for calling the vet when she and Ron had gone to look at a horse some miles away. That mood lasted for about a month, and during that time we were careful not to say or do anything that might bring on her temper. The only one who didn’t act any differently was Hazel, and honestly it seemed that at times she took great delight in doing things to make Dora mad. Then Dora’s mood changed. She still got angry over things that shouldn’t have bothered her, but when she wasn’t angry, she was in tears. Sometime’s I’d hear her crying after she’d gone to bed, she’d cry during the day no matter who was there with her, and she’d spend hours in Copper’s box talking to him over the door. We don’t know what she talked about because she’d clam up as soon as anyone approached and either get angry or burst into tears.

Actually, now I think about it, her latest mood was started by Copper. One evening Callie had brought in all the horses except for Copper, and she was just about to get him when Dora took his collar from her and said that she’d bring him in. Well, the horse obviously knew there was something wrong with the girl because he wouldn’t go near her. She kept walking up to him, but each time she did, the old horse ran to the other end of the field. There was just something about her that upset him, and after a while, she threw down his collar and took to her room. That was two weeks ago, and until tonight that was almost the last time we saw her.

The Colonel has been worried about her changing moods and called in the Doctor. He came several times but Dora refused to see him. When she eventually did agree it turns out that he thinks she’s suffering from some sort of nervous breakdown, and he asked the Colonel if he would sign the papers to have her admitted to a mental hospital because he didn’t think that Dora herself was capable of understanding what was going on so couldn’t sign for herself. Things came to a head tonight, and Dora has been taken away in an ambulance.

I’m sorry if my words aren’t starting to make much sense now, but I’m sure you’ll understand that I’m a little emotional at the moment, and there’s a strange air floating over the farm. The irony is that Dora asked you to go because she didn’t want change, now she’s changed things all by herself.

Sorry to end like this, but really do hope I hear from you.

Sincerely,

Your mate Slugger.
"We shape horses, then they shape us, but, we must be what we want our horses to become."

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Re: The Steve letters....
« Reply #8 on: October 12, 2012, 05:40:23 PM »
A few days later, Slugger and the Colonel found themselves on the outskirts of York, trying to find the address of the hospital that the Doctor had given them.  In  addition to the address, the Doctor has passed on some advice and told them to let Dora settle in before they visited her. But the words men and patience very rarely appear in the same sentence, and both were more than a little eager to check up on her.

As they drove along they found a high brick wall on the nearside of the Land Rover. Beyond it they could see an imposing Victorian brick built building that gave off an air of foreboding. The buildings four storeys and barred windows seemed to suck the life and joy out of it’s surroundings, and it was with some trepidation that they pulled up at the gate. The Colonel turned to Slugger and half whispered “My God Sluggs, what have I done?” Slugger said nothing, but for an instant touched the Colonel’s left hand that rested on the vehicle’s gear lever.

At the gate was a sombre uniformed man who too seemed to have had the life and joy sucked from him. But at least he was helpful, giving the Colonel explicit instructions on how to reach Dora’s ward. As they drove through the grounds and past the sombre building, they noticed the sheer number of people wandering around the grounds. Some just staring straight ahead, others animated performing the same actions over and over, while others just sat quietly and watched them pass. Here and there were white uniformed nurses and orderlies watching over their charges. They rounded the left hand side of the building and saw some distance away a cluster of new prefabricated buildings, exactly as the gate man had told them. The Colonel stopped outside, and the two men clambered out of the Land Rover. “Better lock it Colonel, we don’t want to be in trouble for helping stowaways.” Good old Slugger, the Colonel thought, he always manages to put into words things that I might not dare to say.

The doctors and nurses in the new unit were more than polite and interested. The Colonel explained who they were looking for, and the doctor in charge of her case was summoned. He briefed the Colonel on Dora’s treatment, and warned him that due to her medication she might seem drowsy and unable to concentrate, then he said “At first she may not even recognise you.” That sent a chill down Slugger’s spine, in his innocence he almost thought that she’d be nearly ready to come home by now. The doctor continued “To be honest I’m rather glad you came. Dora’s been very quiet since she arrived, but she has taken a keen interest in art, well drawing actually… I wonder if you’d be good enough to look at these  and tell me if they make any sense to you?” He gave the Colonel a sheaf of papers, each containing one of Dora’s works.

The Colonel looked at the first one, it showed a young crying girl standing under an aeroplane, and sadly looked like it had been drawn by a five year old. The cabin windows of the plane had been drawn much larger than they should be, and through one could be seen the face of a man, while through another the face of a woman had been clearly drawn. “Well,” said the Colonel “Dora’s father is a diplomat, and he and Dora’s mother have always been away on diplomatic affairs. As a result she spent most of her early years with a nanny, before starting boarding school.” “Ah,” started the doctor, “Do you think that the little girl in the drawing is Dora, while her mum and dad fly away in the airliner?” The Colonel nodded. The doctor drew his attention to the next two drawings, “This one seems to show the same sad girl with a group of smiling girls, but this next one shows an exact reversal the single girl is smiling, but all the others look sad or cross.” he paused for a moment “Did Dora blossom at boarding school, or as this second picture seems to show, did she not fit in with everyone else?” The Colonel thought for a moment “Well she’s always been ’different’ if that makes sense. She’s never been interested in the lifestyle her parents could offer her, she’s more Mmmmm, let’s say more down to earth.” The doctor nodded very sagely. “And finally perhaps you could look at these last few.” The next drawing still featured the little girl, but she was beside a tree. A tree that bore no leaves or fruit. Along with the girl were four figures. “If I might suggest sir,” the doctor looked at Slugger “This one with the triangular hat, might well be you” Slugger instinctively reached up to his tea cosy hat, still perched on his head. “While this one in the suit, is you I think.” he nodded to the Colonel, “Have you any idea of the identity of the two other men, and the significance of the tree?” The Colonel explained about Follyfoot and the Lightning Tree, then went on to tell the doctor about Ron and Steve. He finished by saying that a while before Dora’s troubles started, she had asked Steve to go.

“That might explain the next one then,” said the doctor, but I have to say it’s not quite so pleasant.” He took the next drawing from the Colonel and held it so they could all see. It was almost identical to the previous one, but this one showed no Steve, and was covered in thick black scribbled pencil lines, as though Dora had tried to erase Steve’s departure from her life.

The final drawing was completely different, it was an almost perfect life study of Copper’s head and neck. The Colonel could see every hair, every whisker, and the light reflecting in the horses dark eye. Frankly he was stunned, he had no idea that in all the time he’d known Dora, she could produce something so beautiful. “Yes it’s good isn’t it?” said the doctor. “A lot of our patients find release in art, and it’s surprising how many are actually very good at it… I tend to think that when our brains are released from their prison of the I can’t do it attitude, we are sometimes surprised by what we’re really capable of.”  “I wonder,” asked the Colonel, “If I might be allowed to keep these?”
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Re: The Steve letters....
« Reply #9 on: October 13, 2012, 06:35:08 AM »
A nurse quietly directed the two to Dora’s room. She was sitting quietly in bed, still wearing the lemon yellow cardigan that she wore when the ambulance had collected her. As the Colonel and Slugger entered the room, she turned her head toward them, but said nothing. “Hello Dora,” said the Colonel, smiling at his niece, “Looks like you’ve been busy.” he gestured towards the numerous sheets of paper that adorned her bed. “Have I?” she said, her remark addressed to no-one in particular. Then she looked Slugger straight in the eye “They told me I was having visitors… are you my visitors?” “Yes gel, we are. I’m Slugger and this is your uncle, the Colonel.” He held up a carrier bag stuffed with clothes and other things they thought Dora might need, “We brought some of your things Dora… from home.” “Home,” said Dora, “I think this is my home, but thank you anyway… It was nice of you. I like nice people. Don’t you?”

The two men sat in Dora’s room for the next half an hour, chatting to her, but not really talking with her. It was obvious that the drugs and her general condition were having a severe effect on the way she related to the outside world. Slugger grew restive, and started to fidget, it was clear to the Colonel that his friend was more than a little uncomfortable in these surroundings. He pulled two crisp five pound notes from his wallet, “Slugger, I wonder if you’d do me a favour, would you be good enough to drive into the city and buy some art materials for Dora? You can buy her some nice things too, chocolate or whatever you think she’d like… I’ll leave it to you.” Slugger almost leapt at the chance “Yes, course I will Colonel.” Now he had a mission, a task, something that he could use as an excuse to get away.

Slugger walked through the city, burdened with paper, a range of different hardness pencils, coloured pencils and other odds and ends that the lady in the art shop had told him were essential for the budding artist. He’d also bought chocolate bars and other tasty treats, deodorant sprays and a small bottle of perfume, all of which he hoped would aid Dora’s journey to recovery. He was just spending the last few pence of the Colonel’s money on magazines in a newsagents when he saw the book. It was a large book, what might best be described as a coffee table book, but the important thing was that while there was very little text inside, every page featured a magnificent photograph of a horse. It cost him the best part of two pounds fifty of his own money, but, he reasoned, what’s the point of having money if you can’t spend it on those you love. When he returned to the Land Rover, he broke open one of the boxes of pencils and wrote on the inside cover of the book ‘To Dora, Get well soon, Love Slugger xxx’

By the time he got back to Dora’s room, both she and the Colonel were quiet, so Slugger broke the ice “Look Dora, here’s some things to help you with your drawing. They’re from your uncle...” he gestured toward the Colonel as he laid the bags of shopping on Dora’s bed, “And this is from me, a special present from your old mate Sluggs.” He gently placed the large book on Dora’s lap and opened it so she could see the first picture inside. “Oh horses, thank you.” She looked at page after page taking in the detail of each photograph, then said something that startled her visitors. “Thank you for all these lovely things, and your visit. I hope you’ll come to see me again, but I can’t love you… Everything that I love goes away, so if I don’t love you I know you’ll come back.” As she leafed through the pictures she came across one particular photo, a horse that could have been Copper’s double. “ I think I used to have a horse, I wonder if he’ll come and see me? But perhaps he won’t because if he loved me, I’ve gone away too haven’t I… Just left him, as others have left me.” A tear started to run down her cheek. The Colonel stood, and put a hand on her shoulder, “No Dora, you haven’t left him, he’s just waiting patiently for you to get better and come home, and when you do he’ll still love you and tell you that you’re worth the wait.” 
"We shape horses, then they shape us, but, we must be what we want our horses to become."

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Re: The Steve letters....
« Reply #10 on: October 13, 2012, 09:01:49 PM »
Steve lay on the sofa at one end of his small caravan home. How long he’d been there he neither knew, nor cared. A minute, an hour, a day? He really wasn’t sure. Even his usually reliable alarm clock was lying to him, it had said ten to seven for days now, but there again he honestly couldn’t remember the last time he had wound it. His transistor fared no better, the tiny batteries having given their last some days before. He tried to remember, was this the second or third week of the Governess’ holiday, how long had it been since he had received Slugger’s letter. The days and nights had changed. Instead of being definite periods of dark and light, they simply merged into one long continuous mess, a mess that he seemed unable, or unwilling to escape. He felt like he was sliding down an icy hillside with no way to stop himself from speeding up and ending in a heap at the bottom.

He sat up, and peered from the window. Was it time to feed the horses? No, he’d done that, and picked the paddock clean of droppings, he definitely remembered putting the horses away and watching them start on their haynets. So it must be evening. But what did it matter, apart from the horses there was nothing, nor no-one in his life, for all he knew, he could be the last person on earth.

He stood and looked into the small mirror in the caravan’s kitchen area, and it came as a bit of a shock to realise that he almost didn’t recognise the person staring back at him. On his chin were several days of stubble, his shirt was filthy and his eyes baggy and bloodshot through lack of sleep. He fancied tea, but then remembered that the small gas cylinder that gave heat and warm food was empty. In frustration he kicked one of the cushions from one end of the van to the other. Damn the world, damn it damn it… just as he was getting over Dora and Follyfoot, and making a new life for himself far away, everything was coming tumbling down around him. It had all started several days before. The Governess had asked that, while she was away, if he’d keep an eye on the house; just the usual things, check the locks, collect the mail, the myriad of tiny things that went to keeping the vacant house tidy and secure. Everything was fine, daily he went about his duties with the horses, then let himself into the house through the kitchen door, checked the house and picked up the mail. But, that fateful morning he found two items of post addressed to him. The first was a post card, featuring some Spanish view, mostly sunny skies, sands and sea. On the reverse the Governess had penned a very short note ‘Jeremy and I to marry, so excited, see you soon.’ The second item was a hand written letter from Slugger, telling him that Dora was seriously ill. The impact of those two letters made him feel as though he’d taken two bullets to his chest.

Oh, he’d half expected the card from the Governess. Since she’d first mentioned the unexpected Spanish holiday with ‘Jeremy’ he knew what the outcome would be; they’d marry, the house and horses would be sold, and he’d be looking for work again. In a way he almost welcomed the post card, because it put him out of his misery and confirmed his fears. But the letter from Slugger was a different matter, true he still had feelings for Dora, but deep inside he really didn’t know how he should feel. The confusion was the main reason why he’d spent the last days or weeks in a stupor, continually fighting within himself while he sought an answer. Sometimes he felt he should go to her, wherever she was. Then his rational side would tell him that she didn’t want him, she’d told him to go and hadn’t contacted him since, so why should she want or need his company now. Besides, she had rich parents and a rich uncle who were no doubt dancing to her every whim. Let them. He was better off without her. Then a few seconds later the feeling of finding her took over again. It was no wonder that he never recognised the man in the mirror.

Looking about him he noticed the waste bin by the caravan’s larder. It was overflowing with half used writing paper… How many times had he sat down at tried to reply to Slugger’s letter? There must have been a couple of dozen balls of crumpled paper in there, testament to his inability to deal with the feelings within him. If he could just sit down and write, if he could just sit down and let Slugger know how he felt, it might, just might, start his own road to recovery. As he opened the last few sheets on the writing pad, and picked up his pen, he felt like a man with toothache… scared of the pain, but even more scared of the dentist’s drill.
"We shape horses, then they shape us, but, we must be what we want our horses to become."

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Re: The Steve letters....
« Reply #11 on: October 13, 2012, 09:05:07 PM »
Dear Slugger,

Thank you for your letter. I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to reply, but frankly I have been at a loss to know what to say. There’s a pile of started, but thrown away letters in my bin, so it’s not as if I haven’t tried to write. I’m sorry too that I haven’t put the date at the top of this letter, but honestly, I’m not even sure what the date is.

It looks as though my time here is nearly at an end. On the same day I got your letter, I also had a card from the Governess in Spain. She says that she and her ’boyfriend’ are to marry, so I guess that the horses and house will be sold. I know he’s trying to control her and con her out of her fortune, and to do that he’ll have to separate her from all that she knows. He can’t possibly afford for me to be around, I’d be far too much of a risk to his plans.

I’m really glad you showed the Colonel my letter, I suppose I wrote those things about him almost knowing that you would. I appreciate that, while I’m no longer a part of Follyfoot, you still are and I wouldn’t want you to do anything that might risk your life there. But at least it’s all out in the open now.

I’ve thought about Dora long and hard. You know that at one time she meant the world to me, but now I’m really mixed up about how I should feel. Part of me wants to care deeply, while another part of me wants to keep well out of it. Perhaps you knew that I was so in love with her, but was trying not to show it. Maybe I should have been more of a man and told her to her face how I felt. But would it have done any good really? The thing about giving your love to someone is that you expect them to feel almost honoured, and return those feelings back to you. But what if they don’t or cant love you in return? You’ve just ended up making a fool of yourself, and in addition you make things worse between you and the person you secretly love. I didn’t want Follyfoot to be ruined by one man’s desires; if I’d told her and she’d laughed it off, I could never have carried on working there. Is it better to see someone you secretly love every day, and know that your feelings will never be returned, or is it better to love just the memory of someone who once meant so much to you. At least now I can’t be hurt by her affections for Joe or Chip, or anyone else that comes along.

Anyway, I have to face the fact that it was her that told me to go. Believe me, if there was any spark in her that cared for me, I’d be beside her hospital bed at this minute helping her through her troubles, rather than sitting in a caravan pouring out my heart on a piece of paper.

I don’t wish her ill, far from it, and I hope that she soon gets better and returns to run Follyfoot. Sadly I have to say that, at the moment, I can only send those thoughts from a distance. In order to get my own life back on track I’ve got to take all my memories of her, and this place, put them in a box in my brain and put the lid firmly on, so that ghosts of the past don’t continue to haunt me.

I don’t want to feel this way, truly I don’t, but I’ve got to protect myself.

Steve. 
"We shape horses, then they shape us, but, we must be what we want our horses to become."

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Re: The Steve letters....
« Reply #12 on: October 18, 2012, 05:30:26 PM »
Slugger kept the letter in his back pocket for four or five days, until at last, he had a chance to be alone with the Colonel. He saw the Colonel’s eyes flicker over the lines, but his face showed no reaction, until he handed the folded paper back to Slugger. “Hmm, looks like the boy’s going through a rough patch again Sluggs” “Yes Colonel” started Slugger “But I’m a bit,” he searched for the right words “Well, surprised really about his attitude to Dora, I always thought…” “Oh, don’t worry Sluggs, he cares. In fact I know he cares far more than he’s letting on there..” The Colonel pointed to the letter. “Surely you remember your youth old friend, skinning your knees but never crying in front of your friends… Well, this is exactly the same, but on a different scale… He’s still at that stage where he feels the need not to cry in front of his pals. He’ll change when he gets older, and realises that emotions aren’t anything to be afraid of.” The Colonel smiled, “We just have to give him time.”

Later that night Slugger again found himself in the Colonel’s study; a pen in one hand, and a refreshing brew of hot, dark tea in the other.
"We shape horses, then they shape us, but, we must be what we want our horses to become."

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Re: The Steve letters....
« Reply #13 on: October 18, 2012, 05:35:33 PM »
Dear Steve,

Thanks for your letter. I’m sorry you think that things are coming to an end at the Governess’ place. If she wants someone to help spend all that money be sure and mention my name, who knows I might be able to persuade her to keep you and the horses on.

Talking of horses, we’ve had to turn four or five away over the last few months. Even with all of us working on horse care we’re still stretched. All we do is feed and clean up what they leave behind, I’m sure them astronauts can see our muck heap every time they orbit. The Colonel says that not grooming them won’t hurt, nor will not riding them, but I know he misses his horseback trips out into the countryside.

Sadly I have to say that the young lad who was a member of the ‘Night Riders’ has passed away. That frightened a couple of the other members of the gang to hand themselves in at the Police station. I think that they thought that they might get more lenient treatment if they owned up. They’ve dropped Lewis right in it, saying that it’s been his idea all along. They even said that he was there on the night the boy was injured, but he still denied it. The thing is the Police had no evidence except for a few motor bike tyre marks, and even though they checked his bike the marks didn’t match his tyres.

Then they got lucky. One of the local coppers who had been working on the case, went in to that motor cycle shop on the edge of town. Turns out he wanted some cheap tyres for his own bike, anyway the shop owner says he’s got a pair of almost brand new tyres that had come off a young lad’s bike some weeks before. The lad had said that the tyres didn’t work too well on his bike and even though they were in good condition, he wanted them changed. The copper put two and two together, and they found that the tyres that the lad had changed were a match for the tracks. The shop keeper was able to give a perfect description of Lewis and he was arrested that afternoon. Of course they can’t charge him with anything concerning the lad’s death, that’s been rules as misadventure, but there were so many locals after Lewis’ blood that he collected a few things from home, then he and his bike disappeared. I have no idea where he’s gone, but good riddance I say.

The one person who got into most trouble over the whole thing was Ron. He was arrested shortly after Lewis, and despite the Colonel’s protests, was taken away in a Police car. Turns out that he was given a Police caution for making a false statement. Since that day, he’s changed… keeps his head down and works so hard, he’s almost doing the work of two men. I think he’ll change for the better now Lewis has no control over him. In fact him and Hazel seem to be getting on very well. While she’s only a kid, I think he sees her as a younger sister, and the two of them spend their lunch times singing pop songs at the top of their voices while he strums that guitar. It might turn out that the two of them get into more mischief that he ever did while under Lewis’ influence.

The Colonel took me to visit Dora a few days after she was taken away in the ambulance. The place she’s in is in the grounds of a mental hospital, and it’s horrible, really horrible Steve. I don’t mind telling you that I’m frightened for her, she’s just not Dora… she didn’t even know who we were when we visited her. During the war I saw blokes go loopy after days of shelling and fighting, but I knew what had caused their problems. It near enough drove me over the edge I can tell you, but with Dora I just don’t know what’s caused her to go like that. I lie in bed wondering if it was me. Did I do something that drove her to the edge of madness? If she comes back will it happen again? I just don’t know Steve, I really don’t. All she seems to do is draw, drawings that must mean something to her because her doctor said that, at the moment, that’s how she communicating her fears and worries about the outside world. I only hope he’s clever enough to fix her.

The two of us, the Colonel and Ron are in some of her drawings, along with that blessed tree she insists on watering every day. Most of her drawings are just childish scribbles, but there are one or two that are so good they look like a proper artist’s work. She did one of Copper that was so good, it would be difficult to tell the real horse apart from the drawing, but the funny thing is, she doesn’t remember him, his name means nothing to her.

Her mum and dad are finally coming home in a couple of days, I think the Colonel’s going to have a real fight on his hands then, because I have no doubt that he’s going to have the blame for all this set firmly on his shoulders. The fact that he’s visited her several times since she’s been hospitalised won’t matter in the least. I’m only glad that, after a lifetime of fights, that’s one I’m not going to have to face.

Stay well Steve, no matter what happens to you in the future, you’ll always have friends here at Follyfoot, even if some of them do have four legs!

Slugger.

   
"We shape horses, then they shape us, but, we must be what we want our horses to become."

Offline MidnightZodiac

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Re: The Steve letters....
« Reply #14 on: October 18, 2012, 06:23:22 PM »
The small kettle in Steve’s caravan had just started to whistle, when there was a gentle knock on the door. He turned the gas off and as quickly as he could opened the door to his visitor. It was the Governess, she stood there, smiled and asked if she could come in. “Of course.” Steve grinned and stood back so she could get into the confines of the van. “Would you like some tea?” he asked, “Only it’s lunch time and I…” The Governess nodded and smiled again “Steve, you don’t have to explain. Of all the people I’ve met since being a rich widow, you’re one of the very few who I can trust completely. Every time you’ve asked for money for something horsey, you always come back with a receipt and the exact change to the penny. I know you do more with the horses than you ever get paid for, and I’m really sorry about what I’ve got to tell you.”

Steve’s face fell, but he forced a smile as he passed her a mug of tea…. He knew in his heart what was coming next, but somehow, although it was going to mean that his time with the Governess was drawing to a close he, would miss her. “The thing is,” she started, “I’ve decided to sell this rambling place and set up home in London with Jeremy. We’re getting married shortly, then we’re going to live in Spain in a villa on the coast.” She continued, “I’ve got the estate agents coming round on Monday, then Tuesday, a friend of Jeremy’s, a Major somebody or other, is coming to look at and maybe buy the horses. Jeremy doesn’t think they’ll fetch a lot, but I have to let them go, and I‘ve told him that you‘ll be here. So, once they’re gone, you can either stay till the end of the week, or if you find work earlier, then just go when it suits you. I’ll pay you in advance for the next fortnight anyhow.” Steve was actually a little surprised at the amount of emotion in the Governess’ voice, and in between her words he thought he detected almost a little sadness.

“That’s OK” he said, “By what you’ve said I take it you won’t be here, so I’ll let the estate agent in for you, and deal with the Major.” The two sat in silence sipping tea across the caravan’s small table. “Look,” Steve started, “This may cost me everything, but I have to tell you to be careful. I know you’re rich, and I know you’re a widow, but please understand when I say that there are men out there who will prey on vulnerable women when they are at their lowest like you have been. I’m not saying that about your fiancé, just asking you to think twice about everything before you do it.” He paused, “We haven’t known each other that long, but even so I don’t want you getting hurt.”

The Governess stared out of the window toward the stables, when she started to talk she didn’t even turn towards Steve, she just talked to no-one in particular, “When we became rich, we lost most of our friends… Oh, they came to see the big house and the new life, but they really didn’t want to be part of it. We no longer fitted in as ordinary people. Then the people we met who had money didn’t think we should have it too. They’d made money in business or were born with it, we were upstarts, rich through lucky guesses on a pools coupon. In short this windfall destroyed us… Jealousies, resentments, I’ve been through them all. At times I actually wish we’d never sent the coupon off, and still lived two up two down.” At that point she turned to Steve and stared him in the eye, “You aren’t in trouble for telling me what I already suspect Steve… but as you get older you realise that chances for happiness become fewer and fewer. Perhaps Jeremy loves me, perhaps he just loves what I can give him… But while it lasts it’ll be better than being just the lonely rich widow despised by all.” She stood up to leave, put her arms round Steve and gave him a kiss, “You know we were never blessed with children Steve, but if I’d had a son as gentle and caring as you, I’d be a very, very proud mother.” With that, she turned and disappeared out of Steve’s life forever.   

"We shape horses, then they shape us, but, we must be what we want our horses to become."