The Precious Life and Rambles of Liz Tattler

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      (And her struggles with editorial and cleaning staff anarchy)

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        At that moment the trap in the ceiling opened revealing the dark attic.

        “Is that smoke coming from the attic?” asked Godfrey, suddenly worried someone had started a fire up there.

        “It’s looking more like mist,” said Liz who had suddenly forgotten about her unborn babies. “You know, in those mystery novels they add some when they want to create an atmosphere of suspens.”

        Godfrey looked doubtful as the mist was continuing to pour down from the attic in slow motion, like the harbinger of a darker secret. A loud noise made them jump. A metallic ladder, apparently attached on the attic’s floor which was the corridor’s ceiling, unfolded quickly. It stopped just before hitting the floor.

        They all looked at each others, waiting for someone to say something. Anything.

        “Go have a look, Godfrey,” said Liz.
        “Shouldn’t it be Walter? He’s from the police after all, if there is danger he should be the one to take the lead.”

        Liz looked a bit uncomfortable.
        “I’m not sure,” she said in a hum. “There might be some dark secrets I don’t want to reveal to outsiders.”

        “Are you coming or what?” Said a voice coming from the attic.


          “I don’t have time for that” Godfrey said loudly, grumpy at being woken up by the smikst alert. “There are some people who do actually have real work to do.”

          It was not difficult for him to ignore the “come back here right this instant!” of Liz’ when he walked away to the secret passageway that let him pop in and out of scenes like a peanut from its shell. He still had earplugs from his sleeping attempt, and thought they were actually quite useful.
          Liz’ was far more than capable of handling the German and her ex without him.


            Godfrey might have heard the postman knocking at the door if he hadn’t had his earplugs in, and Roberto, had he been gardening as usual, might have seen the postmans’ approach. Liz, had she been downstairs in her sitting room, might have heard the knock. The postman knocked again, wondering whether to leave the parcel on the doorstep, or take it back to the office. He decided to leave it inside a large urn under the window, rather than carrying it back again, and made a mental note to mention it on his next visit to the house.


              “Who’s been chucking stuff in the urn!?” grumbled Finnley. “Always someone messing things up round this place.”

              She took the parcel and dumped it in the overflowing garbage bin.

              Just in time for the rubbish collector, she thought with satisfaction.


                Those things people discard… in his life as the rubbish collector, Pepe had seen many. The unusual large package was just one of the highlights of the day; it’s like Providence meant for him to have this thrown away parcel.

                Curious they didn’t even bother to open it, though he thought as he put it on the front of the truck. He probably would keep it for awhile, to see if anybody claims it back. You’d never know with the lot of crazy hoarding people in this lot. It was not the first time their batty help threw stuff away.

                If not, whatever that was inside would probably join his large collection.
                Over 20 years of gathering discarded books, he could almost open a library. And it didn’t matter how much he would give away, more would come back. It was a blessed curse, he used to say.


                  “Pepe pulled his truck up at the polling station,” Liz wrote, suddenly seized with an idea, “And voted for the nice man with the straggly beard. He knew that he would win, and wanted to add his voice to the collective choice.”

                  “That’s outrageous, Liz!” spluttered Finnley. “You can’t tamper with elections by writing the outcome into the story!”

                  “Can’t? I just did!” she replied grimly.


                    “You incredibly rude fuckers after we were obliged to listen to yours for years,” Elizabeth’s fingers tapped loudly on the keyboard. “It would be at the very least polite to show a little interest, even if it is feigned, but no! Stuck up your own arseholes as usual!”

                    “You can’t say that, Liz!” Finnley gasped, looking over Liz’s shoulder.

                    “Fuck ‘em!” replied Liz, thrusting her keyboard to the back of the desk with a satisfied smile. “You just can’t get the crowd fillers these days. Now then, were is that tasty gardener?”


                      Roberto was pleased with the progress he’d made so far. Not just the distance covered with the sack of forgotten characters, which was indeed commendable, but pleased with his new found motivation and the return of his adventurous spirit. He found a mossy corner of the cavern to rest, feeling that he had reached a significant junction in the journey, and closed his eyes and fell into a deeply relaxing sleep.

                      As he slept, the sack beside him started to twitch. A peculiar long grey tendril of twisted hair began to protrude from one of the holes.


                        “Jingle, where are you?” asked Finnley grumpily, peering into the darkness of the attic.

                        “Here”, hissed Jingle from behind some boxes. “Has that dreadful man gone yet?”

                        “Nope, still here. Drooling over Liz no doubt.”

                        “I won’t go back to my mother! That awful woman!”

                        “Well you can’t stay here so you had better go out the window.”

                        “What window? There is no window!” whimpered Jingle.

                        Oh for Flove’s sake! thought Finnley. No imagination. That’s her trouble.

                        Adroitly, she whipped out some power tools and cut a hole in the roof.

                        “There!” she said, taking a step back to survey her work. “A window. Now, off you go. And don’t come back.”

                        “Oh thank you, Finnley. You are wonderful!”

                        “I am, aren’t I,” smirked Finnley.

                        And after all, Liz didn’t even know she had an attic so she certainly won’t notice a window.


                          “So, that’s where the gardener has been hiding all this time…” Godfrey thought, quietly stepping out of the shadows into the sinkhole tunnels. “Maybe I’ll just tell Liz’ he has resigned. Although she seemed more taken by this one than with the previous guys…”
                          While the gardener was snoring loudly, he took time to look around, and noticed the sprouting sack.
                          “How curious that those old books have started to come to life again…”

                          An idea had crossed his mind, both dreadful and exciting. The portal…

                          Leaving the gardener to his dreams, and taking another secret exit out of the dark tunnel, opening another succession of doors with the turn of a key hanging from the watch chain of his burgundy waistcoat, he soon found himself reappearing into a deep secret place. A small round room, almost like the inner chamber of a burrow, with no visible door, no window, seemingly lit only by a single ray of light coming from the pinhole in the ceiling, reflected on the glittering curved walls. At one side, was a well, and one could hear the humming sound of flowing underground water.
                          On the well, where deeply carved words : “HC SVNT DRACONES”. Just below them, painted in white in Godfrey’s flowering handwriting : “Here be dragons!”

                          There still was the heavy latch, bolted by a large futuristic-looking lock.

                          Phew, still closed. Godfrey sighed a sigh of relief. He couldn’t imagine the damage to Liz’ frail hold on reality, where she to find about what was lurking behind.

                          Popping a peanut in his mouth, he smiled wryly, reminisced of what Finnley had said about her “discovering” of the attic; yes, their secret was fine with them for now. At least so long as what was locked on the other side stayed there of course…


                            Finnley! Finnley!” Liz’ called from her boudoir.
                            “What is happening with the ceiling? There is water dripping everywhere, it is ruining my last manuscript! You surely haven’t left a window opened upstairs, have you?”

                            She tutted, her hair in disbelief. “With that storm outside, at least that idiot Walter did well to take this ghastly frog trenchcoat back with him.”

                            She paused her litany to contemplate her latest treasure, carefully arranged at the bottom of a large envelope. Seven green potsherds sent by her old friend with a note attached: “Some patterns ideas, I’m sure you’ll know what to do with them.”


                              It’s all a bit quiet there, where have they all gone again? One could hear plants growing in that silence.

                              Finnley!” she shouted across the mansion, pondering at what demoniac activity the maid was devoted recently.

                              She hadn’t seen the maid in the all of the week, but somehow they had been communicating in a sort of eerie telepathic way, by subtle positions of objects in the house. A piece of clothe in this or that position would mean, please wash it hasta pronto, but if it was slightly above ground, she somehow would get it was meant to be just folded for another use. There had been a silent tug of war as to where the towel would dry, as she didn’t like it to be in the humid bathroom. And for every lunch, she would find something prepared in the fridge, ready to be heated in the microwave oven.

                              But she had to tell her, that was enough with chicken and grilled aubergines. A little variety would go a long way…


                                “I brought you a present Liz,” said Finnley, looking relaxed and sun kissed. “From my holidays. I hope you like it!” she added, proffering a small gaudily wrapped gift.

                                “Where have you been?” asked Liz, with a beady glare of suspicion. “Why am I the last to know?”


                                  The door bell rang and Finnley left Liz confused by the present the maid had brought her from Bali. It was the statue of a man in a strange position. Liz had no clue what he was doing, but the statue was so big she could imaging using it as a stool with small silk cushion to make it more comfortable. It was made of wood. Liz touched the head of the statue and felt a momentary lapse.

                                  Liz started. “Oh you’re back”, she said to Finnley with a smile. Finnley looked at her suspiciously.

                                  “Did you take something while I was answering at the door?”

                                  “Oh! right the door. Who was that?”

                                  “Journalists. They are here for the documentary movie.”

                                  The fleeting state of bliss was gone. “Journalists? For me?”

                                  “For who else?” asked Finnley, raising her eyes. “Godfrey?”


                                    “Oh, I almost forgot to give you this,” added Finnley, presenting Liz with a packet of cotton wool. “It’s to put in your ear while you’re in the foetal position, like the statue.”

                                    “How did such a large statue come out of such a small packet?” Liz asked, wonderingly.

                                    “Never question the mystical wonders of the great ascended master. Just place the cotton wool in your ear as instructed by the Great Lord of Kale.”


                                      Finnley fervantly hoped that Liz tired of her new ‘Remember Your Dreams’ group soon.


                                        Godfrey hoped that the week end respite would allow him to remember some of his dreams. With Liz going out for a picnic, and the day off of the staff, he would have the mansion all for himself.


                                          “I am so tired of my “Remember Your Dreams’ group, Finnley. Shall we go to India instead?” remarked Liz.


                                            “… the mansion to yourself? Don’t forget the journalists and the documentary movie, Godfrey,” said Finnley with a smirk.


                                              “The mansion to yourself?” snorted Liz. “You, Godfrey, will be going on ahead to make sure everything is ready for us. We’d like a nice leafy garden and a balcony, and do make sure we have a really good cook.”

                                              “And we want first class tickets,” added Finnley. “Because we are worth it,” she added defiantly, noticing the various raised eyebrows. “I’ll go and find Roberto then shall I?”

                                              “That’s a very good question, Finnley. Where the devil is he anyway? Godfrey, perhaps you should go and find him, and lay the law down a bit about wandering off the thread while on duty.”

                                              “Funnily enough,” said Godfrey, clearing his throat, “Roberto appears to have fetched up in Mumbai. He was spotted a few days ago chasing chickens and trying to stuff them into a story thread. I was, ahem, going to mention it…”

                                              Liz was just about to start complaining about always being the last to know what was going on, when a thought struck her about how marvelously fortuitous it was that she wanted Godfrey to go on ahead to India, and to also look for Roberto ~ who was conveniently in India!

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