Monday, December 31, 2007

Murder to Order: Twelve

"You again," Mr. Rake approached the Green Man cautiously. "What do you want?"

"When I brought you here," the Green Man's eyes narrowed, "it was to protect Ms. Madison. "You see, when I tortured the last bad guy to death, he gave me a name. Aurelian Caine, the mystery millionaire. He is the man behind this."

"But Caine isn't a criminal," Rake shook his head. "He's been involved in high finance for at least forty years."

"In which time," the Green Man replied, "he has been involved in dozens of wars and rumours of wars. Angola, Sierra Leone, anywhere where a quick buck might be made from death and destruction. Now I find that he is running a murder shop."

"Was it really necessary to put Lynette's life in danger just to achieve this?" Rake followed the Green Man, as he slipped behind a tapestry."

"If I could have done it any other way, I would," the Green Man smiled grimly. "Caine has done much evil. It must end now."

The two followed closely behind the Green Man, as he descended a hidden staircase, down into what seemed to be the bowels of the earth. It looked like a secret bunker.

"The lair of high finance," the Green Man declared. "This is where the vermin I hunt lives."

"You hunt?" a soft voice echoed down the corridors. "No, Green Man. It is I who have been hunting you. And there is no better way to hunt than by using a decoy."

The corridor behind and ahead of them filled with armed men, and the voice on the speakers laughed wickedly.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Season's Greetings

On behalf of everyone at The Vengeance of the Green Man, the Green Man and Ms. Madison would like to wish everyone

A Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

And have no fear, they will be back dealing out their very own brand of deadly vengeance to the evildoers of the world, but for those of you at home, peace, goodwill to all men.

(Of course, f you are an evildoer, the Green Man would like to remind you that your doom will come. Watch the post.)

Christmas Message

 Our media correspondent, better known as Lady Sylvia Vaughan, notoriously vain socialite, recently broke into Broadcasting House, London. There she acquired a DVD carrying the Queen's Christmas speech. Have no fear, though, Green Man fans, the luscious Lady Sylvia has not become an anarchist, but was removing a DVD belonging to that mastermind of menace, that Napoleon of naughtiness, the Grey Tabby. His charming and evil accomplice, Purr-Girl, had switched the Queen's Christmas Message with a message from the felonious feline himself. And here it is:
 "Greetings, citizens of Great Britain. You are doubtless wondering who I am and what this is. I am the Grey Tabby, and this is my Christmas message to the nation that scorns my favours. Next year will see my revenge being accomplished. You have been lucky so far, protected as you are by that consummate crime-fighter, the Green Man, and his lady accomplices. But you will not always be so fortunate. Even now, I am gathering a new force of criminals to oppose you - even as this country weakens herself. America will not save you this time - for she cannot save you from the terror within !"
 After which the Meowing matermind laughed wickedly,  and added that Monty Bristow had replaced the hymn-sheets at King's with new ones which included 'When Shepherds Washed their Socks by Night' and 'We Three Kings of Hamilton Square,' the latter reading:
`We Three kings of Hamilton Square
Selling undies at tuppence a pair,
They're fantastic, no elastic -
Hold onto your underwear.'
 And lastly, 'a very happy Christmas to all of you at home!'

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Murder to Order: Eleven

Ms. Madison and M. Rake waited until dawn, with no further incidents. The appearance of the Green Man, however, had convinced Ms. Madison that the end of the tale was near. Pausing to change, she followed Mr. Rake out into the grounds. Of the elegant Lady Sylvia there was no sign.

The house itself, a mock castle was unusually tasteful for a villain's lair, and she hoped that it wasn't going to be destroyed. She checked her handbag and was glad to find that it still contained the pocket pistol she liked to pretend she didn't rely on. And, when Mr. Rake put out his hand, she took it.

"We'll get to the bottom of this, Lynette," he assured her. "I take it you know who the villain is?"

"Well, I've only seen him from a distance," she was forced to admit, "but I know what his racket is. He runs an assassination agency. I was working in a call centre for it."

"Assassination bureaux have call centres?" Mr. Rake was suitably incredulous. "Lynette, you didn't take orders to kill, did you?"

"Of course I did," the blonde freely confessed. "But I always passed the details to the Green Man straight away."

"Hence the sudden and worrying rise in attrition among known hitmen." Mr. Rake shook his head. "Your father was saying only the other day..."

"You spoke to my father!" Ms. Madison looked put out, "what were you doing, Mike?"

"Strange as it may seem, Lynette," he sighed, "I was looking for you. I do worry about you, you know. After all, I do happen to be madly in love with you. He just let it slip in idle conversation."

"And, when Lady Sylvia spoke to you, you decided to come here." Ms. Madison shook her head. "This is dangerous, Mike. These people are killers."
"Well, you're here, aren't you?" he looked offended.
"But the Green Man arranged for me to be here," Ms. Madison shook her head again. "Who arranged for you to be here, Mike? Just you?"
"No," a voice from the shadows caused the pair to start. There, a grim expression on his face, was the Green Man.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

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Friday, December 14, 2007

Murder to Order: Ten

Ms. Madison ran to Mr. Rake and embraced him stifling a sob. She pressed her cheek to his, clinging to him.

"Mike!"she exclaimed, "how..."

"Did I find you?" Mr. Rake chuckled softly. "My dear, I do worry about you, and when you vanished that day at the Savoy I started looking for you. When the Vaughan girl said you'd be at this place, I drove up here at once."

"Sylvia..." the blonde sighed, "and she didn't tell me! Typical of her. She's much too much like the Green Man when it comes to levelling with me."

"So the Green Man's behind all this." Mr. Rake shook his head. "I suppose I should have known this wasn't just you sulking. I suppose you know the cost of a funeral's rising every day. If you get yourself killed, your father won;t be able to bury you on a policeman's salary."

"But you could." Ms. Madison smiled. "Besides, the Green Man told me the job came with a complete burial package. Now, let me kiss you."

The young man duly obliged. Ms. Madison kept hold of him when their lips parted. He looked down at his love and shook his head.

"You do love me," he told her firmly. "Now, how can we get this over so that I can take you to meet my family?"

"We find just why the Green Man's had me come here and get caught," Ms. Madison told him, still holding his arm. "I wish I knew more than that, but I just don't. Still, the bad guys here are dealt with, so we need to go somewhere else." She led him out into another cavernous hall.

Mr. Rake sighed again, as they moved through the darkened mansion. A shot from upstairs told Ms. Madison that Lady Sylvia had found something. Mr. Rake started, only for a smile from his lady to persuade him to ignore it.

He moved to a window, opening the curtains to look out on the lawns, to see if there were any men outside.

Ms. Madison looked with him and gasped.
There, standing, looking out over the landscape, was the Green Man.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Murder to Order: Nine

Ms. Madison reached for the gun by her bed. Drawing the sheets up around her, she waited for the intruder. The blonde's heart was in her mouth, as the door slowly opened.

She laughed with relief as Lady Sylvia slipped through the door, dressed in an attractive black nightie. The brunette slipped the door shut and sat down on the end of Ms. Madison's bed.

"Did Ambrose tell you what he heard?" she hissed urgently - and why was your door locked?"

"Ask your brother," Ms. Madison sighed deeply. "They know who I am. I've been rumbled, and I don't think the Green Man saw this coming."

"How long have you been with him?" Lady Sylvia laughed. "You know him far too well. The Green Man knows things even we don't know."

The Blonde shook her head, smiling. She rose from the bed, putting on her coat over her night-things. Lady Sylvia did the same, producing her gun from a pocket in her nightie.

"I'll take this floor," she told Ms. Madison, "you take the ground floor. We need to make a sweep of this place. We have to find and take out the goons."

The girls split up as Lady Sylvia had suggested, each armed and very dangerous. Ms. Madison added a silencer to her gun, before descending the stairs slowly. She saw a movement in the shadows, as light gleamed on a gun. The man cocked his weapon, but Ms. Madison dropped him with a single shot.

She moved on, towards the entrance. A man walked out of the shadows suddenly, and Ms. Madison punched the man in the stomach. She brought a knee up into the man's face and knocked him out with a blow to the back of the neck. He was tied up and hidden behind a sofa.

Ms. Madison headed to the entrance, meaning to make sure that the escape route was secure. She met no more thugs until she reached the entrance hall, where a huge man loomed out of the shadows in from of her. She fired, but was unable to turn to get the man who seized her wrists from behind. The blonde screamed, letting off another shot. Her wrists were squeezed until she dropped the weapon.
"You've done too much, girl," the men laughed mockingly. "Now you go to the boss. He'll..."
The man said no more, as his grasp on Ms. Madison loosened. He crumpled to the ground, senseless. Ms. Madison turned to see what had happened.
"Nice to see you, Lynette," Mr. Rake smiled.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Sunday Supplement: The Return.

Sir Richard Arcos writes: Before my recent retirement, I was a minister in America for about thirty years, at a Church in California. I occasionally still get letters from people I met there, such as Daniel Trevelyan, the grandson of an old friend, who is now a Pastor in Carolina. He recently took an extended break in order to visit family, during which time he left his assistant, a man called Eric Strange, in charge. Apart from the odd e-mail from Mr. Strange (and some of them were very odd. Apparently Mr. Strange was 'changing the way we do worship.'

Well, Mr. Trevelyan returned from what he vulgarly refers to as a 'vacation' last week, and attended the chuch service as an ordinary member.

The loud musuc that was being played on guitars and drums could be heard from a couple of streets away. Entering the church, Pastor Trevelyan found a team of immodestly dressed 'dedicated dancers' cavorting around the platform. a couple of girls in tiny outfits were passing out drinks and laughing. Some more people were shouting, and the smell of insence hung heavy in the air.

Mr. Strange, dressed in purple, scarlet and gold robes, stepped out into the church wearing a turban. He raised his hands and declared: 'It's good for us to be here!' The people shouted and yelled some more, after doing some more dancing. A couple in front of him started petting worryingly.

After which the preacher announced that they were going to have an extended time of worship. The people shouted loudly, and the pastor pointed to the pulpit doors.
And moments later a golden calf was carried out into the sunlight and the wretched assistant pastor announced 'behold your god!'
Needless to say, Mr. Strange is now looking for another church and the people are still tasting powedered gold.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Murder to Order: Eight

Ms. Madison looked at the gallant Lord in dumb amazement. It was all she could do to keep her jaw from dropping.

"How..." she breathed, " could you know?"

"You're not the only person with strange sources and contacts, Lynette," Lord Ambrose told her. "And I have very keen ears. Have you noticed, Lynette, that this is not an awards evening. You are the only employee of the organisation here - the only junior one, anyway."

"What's the plan, then?" Ms. Madison spoke softly.

"Act as if you suspect nothing." Lord Ambrose's voice was soft and reassuring. "You can do nothing alone, and if you let them know, then they will act. Perhaps before your friend the Green Man can intervene..."

Ms. Madison nodded in sober agreement, before she was called over by a man in a white dinner jacket.

"You are the girl from the Call Centre, aren't you?" He spoke with a smile, a hint of mockery in his voice.

"Maybe so," the blonde shook her head. "I was inited here as some sort of award. It's really nice, since I've been there for such a short time. Would you like to dance?"

And that was all she could say. The man agreed, and the two moved onto the floor, Ms. Madison's arms about him. She waited a while before speaking again.

"How many other girls like me are there?" she asked curiously. "Here, I mean, I've talked to a ouple of people, but they turned out to be really posh..."

"I saw," the man smiled, "Lord Ambrose and his sister, Lady Sylvia. The boss wants some class added to this little gathering. Lord Ambrose is fantastically rich. He's also unmarried - did you know that?"

Ms. Madison pretended she hadn't. She shook her head and tried to look impressed.

"I've got my own boyfriend," she laughed. "And I don't fancy being a gold-digger, even with a man like Lord Ambrose. When do I get to see the boss?"

"Not yet," he told her, leading her to a door. "Right now, you will go to bed. I'll let them know you had a headache."

The gun in his hand persuaded Ms. Madison not to argue. As she ascended the stairs, a liveried footman took over the duty.

The blonde retired to bed full of foreboding, and it was only with extreme difficulty that she was able to get to sleep.

It must have been long after midnight when she awoke again, and the cause of this was the sound of a key in the lock.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Murder to Order: Seven

The evening reception glittered. Ms. Madison was well aware of two things. One was that her gown, supplied for the purpose, looked very plain and twdry next to the finery of others, something that the mischeivous Lady Sylvia seemed to find a great joke. The other was that the gathering looked a great deal too wealthy to be an awards dinner. She could spot at least three Lords, as well as a Member of Parliament and the Governor of a small British colony.

Her host stood out a mile, tall and still blond, in his late fifties, he greeted everyone with a hearty smile and a wave of the hand. Lady Sylvia spent a lot of time speaking with him, and Ms. Madison could not help but wonder what was going on.

"My sister seems tobe having the time of her life." A voice close to Ms. Madison caused her to start.

"You're jumpy right now, Lynette," Lord Ambrose Vaughan put a hand on her arm.

"Lord Ambrose!" Ms. Madison looked up into the handsome face of the young peer. Dark haired like his sister, Lord Ambrose was rumoured to be fantastically wealthy. His already great wealth had been augmented by numerous inheritances as well as successful speculation in the business world. The scar on his left cheek was the legacy of an attack on him by a business rival - some said it was a duelling scar. "What are you doing here?"

"Well, I was invited," the young peer grinned. "Sylv tagged along as my guest - my being without a significant other right now."

"You've always been that way!" Ms. Madison laughed. "And Mike 'ld probably blow his top if I pretended to be it!"

"Then he ought to ask you to marry him," the peer replied.
"He does," Ms. Madison told him. "On a weekly basis."
"Then you ought to accept one of these days." Lord Ambrose shook his head. "No-one can wait for ever Lynette. And if it's that mystery boss of yours that's keeping you from him, then you ought to know that he's seeing someone else, that cat-girl."
"I know." Ms. Madison smiled cutely. "It's not that I'm carrying a torch, I just don't want to settle down just yet."
"You know a great many things, Lynette," Lord Ambrose laughed. "Still," his voice dropped to a whisper, "there are things you don't know - like the fact that he suspects." The peer pointed to the boss.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Murder to Order: Six

Ms. Madison looked out of the window of the huge Rolls-Royce, as it purred through the English countryside, glad to see something like a humane landscape again. She loved London, but after the weeks working in a call centre, she needed to see green trees again, to feel the wind in her hair. She smiled. Even if she was walking knowingly into the lions' den, it looked like it was going to be a nice den. Besides, the Green Man had to be at hand.

The big car turned into a massive drive, past gothic gatelodges, as big as chapels. That made Ms. Madison feel a lot better. This was a proper adventure at last!

The house was a huge pretend castle, and ravens rose from the highest tower, as Ms. Madison stepped out of the car, feet scrunching on the gravel drive. She looked up at the place and admired it.
"Welcome," a liveried footman approached her, bowing. "And you are?"

"Lynette Madison," the blonde smiled. "One of the girls from the office."
"Oh." The footman looked disappointed and walked away from her. Ms. Madison felt absolutely crushed.

"Smile!" A cheerful, cultured female voice behind her caused Ms. Madison to jump. "I've always wanted a snap of an office drudge!"
Turning, Ms. Madison started again. There, sitting on a white picket fence, was the familiar figure of Lady Sylvia Vaughan. She smiled as if butter would not melt in her mouth.
"Sylv!" the blonde's eyes widened. "What..."
"I've been on holiday," Lady Sylvia smiled. "The Green Man lets me have six weeks off whenever I need it, and I was a bit tired, so I went off to Turkey for a few weeks with a couple of pals. I wanted to invite you, but the Green Man said he might need you."
"I'll have to take it up with him." Ms. Madison shook her head. "Still, you're a sight for sore eyes. What do we do now?"
"Wait," Lady Sylvia smiled.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Murder to Order: Five

The boss' office looked out over the shining lights of the city. With a wrench of the heart, Ms. Madison wished she was out there with the nightlife, but it was not to be. She sighed and resigned herself to thoughts of being an office drudge until further notice.

"Good evening, Lynette," the speaker was a large man, seated behind an impressive walnut desk. "I am Mr. Kenshole, manager of this department. I don't think we've met."

"No." The blonde nodded, "I was appointed through an agency."

"Well," he smiled, "you don't act like most agency staff, Lynette. "you're far too efficent. In fact, the manging director's noticed. You've been invited to an awards weekend at his country house in County Durham. It's this weekend. I know it's a bit short notice, but..."

"I don't have any other commitments," she smiled, and hoped Mr. Rake wouldn't mind. "And it is a big thing, after all."
"I knew you'd see things the right way." He nodded in a fatherly manner. "After all, you are a smart girl, Lynette. Your manger says so, and she's a harsh judge of people. You could go far in this company..."
He grinned at her wolfishly, and Ms. Madison reflected that, however far she went, she was not going anywhere near his bed in a million years.
"I'll pack up after work," she nodded, "will anyone I know be there?"
"I shall." The answer did not fill the blonde with confidence.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Murder to Order: Four

The office buzzed with conversation. It was an odd sight, everyone talking, but no-one talking to anybody else in the office, except perhaps in those rare instances where someone wanted to speak to a manager. Now some weeks in to the role, Ms. Madison still hated using a headset, as it messed up her hair.

"Hullo," she took another call, "this is Ultimate Solutions, I'm Lynette, your Pinnacle Murder Consultant. How can I help?"

"That's easy," a coarse male voice came down the 'phone, "gimme your 'phone number."

"You're already calling it." Ms. Madison tried to sound as icy as possible. "Now, can I help you?"

"Sure thing, baby." The man was not American, and his attempt to sound it failed to impress the capable blonde. "I'm callin' about your two for one offer on unwanted lovers."

"Let me guess," Ms. Madison shook her head. "Your wife's found out about your mistress. She wants a divorce, and you don't want your mistress either?"

"Not quite," he replied, "my mistress and my mother-in-law. It's a birthday present for my wife."

"I'll put you through to the hitman handling division," Ms. Madison hit a couple of transfer keys, after noting the man's details.

She hated the job, and she hated the hours even more. This week she would be working until nine o'clock, which meant that her social life would be practically non-existent. Her head hurt from the number of calls she had taken, and the act of having to pass them to the Green Man would take up even more of her time.

Still, she reflected, she was lucky. The man she had just dealt with would receive a visit from the Green Man, as would the hitman. And the hitman, who had to have several confirmed kills to his name, would not survive the encounter.

"Lynette!" he supervisor shouted across the office. "Come off the 'phone! The Boss wants a word with you!"
Ms. Madison rose and put the 'phone down. As she walked towards the door which led to the boss' pffice,her heart was pounding.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Sunday Supplement: The Wrong Sort of Spirit

Sir Richard Arcos here: I had meant to visit the Moreton-on-Rails Pentecostal Fellowship's morning service of healing and prophecy, only this was cancelled due to unforseen illness, so I visited the village's ancient Congregational Chapel instead.

The Chapel, known for its illustrious former ministers, one of whom went out to minister abroad and was eaten by the natives (he was called to minister on a housing estate in Liverpool), has recently acquired a new minister, and he is apparently a little nervous. More so than is perhaps advisable.

As he stood up in the pulpit, he took a drink of water. This was repeated at regular intervals. The children's talk was delivered with some reserve, but the 'long prayer' was more uninhibited. I must confess that I felt some of what he said was a little odd. I mean, when he asked for a blessing on the trees outside the chapel, on the sun and the sky and the chapel cat I was a little suspicious (although the cat was later appropriated by the Cat-Baptists). When he rose to deliver the sermon and almost fell over I became rather more concerned.

After starting off by telling us that the text was 'nice' while wearing a massive dopey smile, he proceeded to tell us that he was lonely when he was young. He took another gulp of water and added that he was a better preacher than Wesley, who he referred to as 'Johnny boy.' After a while he started to tell us that he'd go into the highways and byways and thump anyone who wouldn't come in. He stumbled and started to slur his words after another few gulps.

Then he started to say he loved everyone and was an awful failure. this while blubbing like a girl. Good taste prevented me from telling him to quit himself like a man. After another drink or two from the water glass, equilibrium was restored. He leaned on the pulpit and began to read slowly from his noted. He sank down in the seat and his voice slowed more and more. After a few minutes of this he stopped altogether.

The elders waited for a minute or two, then ascended the pulpit to check. He turned out to have falled asleep.
Further examination proved that that 'water' was in fact eighty per cent proof.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Sunday Supplement: 'The Bible in the Light of Modern Thought'

Sir Richard Arcos here again: This Sunday I was at Loddon Road Methodist Chapel, Bacon St. Anne's. The Minister there, the Rev. Dr. Playce-Filler, DD, is a noted graduate of the now-defunct central Wesleyan College, and a man whose scholarship cannot be doubted, since he has written twenty-nine books, none of which anyone has read.

I was welcomed by a smiling woman at the door, who handed me a hymn book and a notice sheet. There was a meeting on Tuesday for 'woman and toddlers' - I pointed out the error, only to be told that it wasn't, but descriptive of the actual numbers. There was also a social set of meetings and social work. A woman was preaching the next week. When the Rev. Playce-Filler entered the pulpit the congregation stood. He read a prayer from a book, before announcing 'Jesus the Name High Over All.'

The congregation belted this out with gusto, after which the venerable heresiarch [minister, surely? ed.] proceeded to observe that Charles Wesley had a wonderful poetic gift. He read a piece of verse he had read that week, which proved he didn't have a gift of choosing good poems. The reading was on Isaiah 44:9-17, the title was 'Practical Religion.'

Speaking about the idol-maker who burned half the cedar and worshipped the other, the minister observed that this man had a religion that benefitted him. His religious observance was useful for him, as his idol making also provided him with firewood. He asked if our religious onservance was as practical. Did we warm and feed people as well as serving God in our worship. I just kept from exploding.
The minister went on to say that this part of the Bible was not written by Isaiah at all, but this was the product of some man after the return from Babylon, whose book was added to another book. In fact, he went on, the whole Bible was not written by the people whose names were attached to it, but other people. In fact, he went on, Wesley's Journals were not written by John Wesley, but by another man of the same name. His own books, he went on, were not written by him, but by another man with his name. the same man who had fathered his children...
At this point the venerable pastor climbed down from the pulpit and began to tell us that we were all illusions and that someone had replaced him with a clone and that his wife was trying to leave himfor another man with his name. The men in white were called and he was quietly taken away.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Sunday Supplement: Pragmatism!

Sir Richard Arcos here: With the fragrant Lynette Madison busy working her pretty fingers to the bone in the call centre of doom, it was down to me to pick the church again this week. I chose Castle Hill Community Seeker Fellowship in Woodbridge, Suffolk, as I had heard that it was seeking to make the Gospel relevant to the needs of modern men and women. Tis time I took Lady Louise Vaughan, another of my daughters, with me. Her son, Lord Ambrose, lives fairly nearby, at Mainstone Castle, so she hoped to make it a family visit at the same time. We arrived early and were ushered into a huge parking lot. At the door, we were handed a voucher that we could swap for coffee at the nearby fast food outlet. We later gave these to a tramp, who turned them down, as even the tramps in Woodbridge have good taste.

Inside, we discovered that the church was doing a themed day, in this case the theme was the circus, and the pastor and deacons were dressed as clowns. My daughter was less than impressed, especially when one of them squired her in the eye with his buttonhole. For my part, I disarmed him before he could do the same to me, then apologised and said that I was a delusional old man who thought he was Batman sometimes and that I had mistaken him for the Joker. He looked at me as though I was mad. Which was the general idea.
The children were led out of the service and encouraged to paint and what have you, while afterwards the young people went to the pub for a large lunch. The sermon was all about how Jesus will be there for you when you need him, which is all very well, but we were never told exactly why we needed him, and the whole left one with the idea that he was asort of imaginary friend. Since I had more thanenough friends at the age where one can have an imaginary friend, this impressed me not at all.

I did ask the ringmaster (sorry, pastor) why I needed the Gospel of Jesus and he said something about a fulfilled life. At which point I told him that my life is pretty much fulfilled, thank you very much. I am married to a wonderful woman, have lots of money, a great house and many grandchildren. He made like a guppy, so I tossed him a handful of fishfood.
After which we were thrown out. At least we didn't have to turn to the person next to us and tell them they mattered.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Murder to Order: Three

Ms. Madison tried very hard not to look too shocked as she was led through into the busy office. They passed by a number of cubicles, with people working away. Ms. Madison looked out of the window, over the rooftops of the city.

"Come on!" the woman spoke sharply to the elegantly dressed blonde, "this isn't a fashion show!"

"Noticed," Ms. Madison glared at the woman, while looking at the attire of the young men and women. "Some people here could do with a serious makeover - and I don't mean maybe. Where 'll I be working?"

"The call centre," the woman told Ms. Madison, in tones that made her heart sink. "You'll be dealing with small and big customers."

"Small and big?" Ms. Madison looked even more shocked.

"We do have corporate clients," the woman told Ms. Madison. "As well as the individual clients, of course. Most of the people who use us are individual clients, but when we have the opportunity to build a lasting relationship..."

Ms. Madison was sure she was about to faint, when her mobile 'phone went off. She started and apologised.

"Hiya," she ignored the glare of the woman, as she answered her 'phone.
"Hello," the grim tones of the Green Man settled the worries of Ms. Madison. "Are you enjoying yourself?"
"I think I've gone insane," Ms. Madison smiled. "But I guess you're the man with the answers. What do I do?"
"You do your job," the Green Man told her. "Until I tell you not to. You live as though you are who you seem to be."
"Even in a call centre?" Ms. Madison was incredulous.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

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Friday, November 02, 2007

Murder to Order: Part Two

Compass House, an office block in central London, is the headquarters of Pinnacle Partnerships, Ltd, a form whose website declared itself to be a 'consulting' firm. Which tells the casual enquirer precisely nothing. It was to a little shabby hotel just round the corner to this that the taxi took Ms. Madison. She sighed and rolled her eyes, before reading the briefing notes. She was not pleased to find that she was Millicent Riches, an office drudge about to start in an entry-level job at Pinnacle.

So, the next morning Ms. Madison, dressed as elegantly as she thought an office drudge might be, headed for the office, whistling a merry tune. She gave the security guard a cheerful, slightly flirtatious smile, as she passed the desk. She was almost in the lift by the time the guard called her back.

Ms. Madison was required to sit for a photgraph, so she posed accordingly, only to be told that all they required was her face for a pass. Once a pass had been generated, she was told to wait by the desk until her manager arrived. When the man turned up, Ms. Madison stepped forward with a cheerful smile.

"Millicent Riches," the blonde extended her hand. "Just joined the firm."

"I know." The man took her hand, smiling back. "I'm Robin Thatcham, manager of Customer Services. Did the agency tell you what the job entails?"

"More or less," she smiled. "I answer the 'phone and deal with our customers when they're not satisfied with our service."

"Partly," the man nodded, his tone a little patronising. "You will be a Customer Services Consultant in our after-sales servicing department. You will be arranging payment plans for clients who cannot meet their existing payments, as well as dealing with people who are not satosfied with our services."

"Sounds simple," Ms. Madison smiled, "sort of like a holiday job I once did for an insurance firm."
"Good," he smiled. "Of course, there is a huge difference between what they do and we do, Millicent. You will be taking calls from people who have had people murdered on their behalf."

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Murder to Order: One

The band at the Savoy played softly, the dancers swaying over the floor. Ms. Madison, held in the arms of Mr. Rake, looked at the band and the elegant surroundings. She sighed, an action that caused her beau to look solicitously at her.

"Still thinking about him, Lynette?" he asked tenderly. "After he left you. You haven't seen him in weeks."

"But my bills here are still being paid," Ms. Madison replied soberly. "He's coming back, Mike - I know he is."

"He put you in hospital!" Mr. Rake looked shocked. "You almost went mad, and Sylv's still in a nursing home! But you still want to run around with him?"

"Mike," Ms. Madison sighed again, "please don't be jealous. I'm his secretary, not his girl-friend. He's got one of those, and I think you've met her."

"The cat lady?" Mr. Rake chuckled. "I've met her. She's a nice girl, and a lot more domestic than you are, Lynette."

"She's the Girl in Grey," Ms. Madison laughed, "but it's not so hard being more domestic than me. I live in a hotel, after all!"

Mr. Rake shook his head, looking down at the girl in his arms. He stopped dancing, his hands on her arms.

"Lynette," he sighed deeply. "I know you too well to expect you to change and become a domestic goddess. But when your eyes shine like that, I wonder why I bother seeing you. I love you, Lynette, but love doesn't wait forever. Can't you just..."

Ms. Madison looked up at him with big blue eyes. Light caught a teardrop lurking there.

"Don't force me to choose, Mike," she fought to control herself. "Don't ever force me to choose!"
She remained icily self-controlled, as she marched out of the ballroom. But in the lift the tears came. She ran into her room and threw open the bathroom. Ms. Madison was about to throw something at the mirror when the 'phone rang.
"M...Ms. Ma...Madison," she stammered tearfully.
"This is the Green Man," the familiar voice brought a smile to Ms. Madison's tear-stained face. "You are to take a taxi from this hotel in fifteen minutes. It will be green and driven by a woman. Just stay in it. Your briefing is on the rear seat. Do not be late."