The Ninth Victim – Excerpt 2

Dupin appraised Valjean, attempting to get the measure of the man. He was of average build, the kind of man that women would find attractive, Then he looked into his eyes, dark brown almost black, relaxed yet obviously alert, but eyes filled with sadness as if they had witnessed all the horrors that this world has to offer. Dupin then knew for certain that he had the right man for this particular investigation.

Monsieur Dupin began to explain his predicament, ‘ In the area that comes under my jurisdiction in the past twelve years there have been eight missing girls, all in their late teens. We have only discovered the bodies of three of them and they had been mutilated by animals. For sometime now my Officers and I believed we had a serial killer on our hands, but without the cadavers we have no case?

‘So what do you expect from me? I’m a detective, not a magician,’ said Valjean angrily.

‘If you would be so kind as to let me finish, there has been a development. That is the reason that I requested outside assistance, have you heard of Marcel de Peysac?’

‘Isn’t he a best selling author of some kind? I’m not familiar with his work, other than that the name sounds familiar, should I have heard of him?’

‘You will probably be more interested when I tell you that de Peysac’s real name is Pierre Dubois, a convicted felon found guilty of badly beating and raping a seventeen year old girl, he was twenty at the time. He served his sentence, was released and vanished off the system, or so we believed at the time?’

(C) Damian Grange 2020

The Ninth Victim

Detective Inspector Michel ‘Jean’ Valjean was furious, he had been summoned to his Commissioner’s office and left kicking his heels for what seemed like forever.

Despite the No Smoking signs, Valjean reached into his pocket and extracted a crumpled pack of Gauloise, he selected one and lit it, he inhaled deeply feeling the familiar sensations almost like the caress of an old lover.

He had tried sweet talking the Commissioner’s secretary, but she just shrugged her shoulders non-committedly. ‘Bloody bitch’ muttered Valjean under his breath.

Under normal circumstances he would have just burst into the office. But the circumstances were not normal. there was already a man in conference with the Commissioner, a man unknown to Valjean.

Valjean’s mind was racing, am I in the shit again in line for another warning, or am I due for another commendation. Lord knows I’ve had more than my fair share of both.

Then the door opened and Valjean was ushered inside and given a seat. ‘Detective Inspector Valjean,’ said the Commissioner, ‘This is Raoul Dupin Prefecture of Police for the Languedoc area’ he said introducing the stranger, ‘He has need of your particular talents.’

(C) Damian Grange 2020

Seasons Greetings

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I would like to wish all my friends and followers on WordPress a very merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year.

My thanks for all the messages of sympathy in my recent spell of illness, I go into the Hospital shortly for open heart surgery, then after a couple of months rehabilitation I hope to return to WordPress.

Regards Malkie

A Christmas Ghost Story

  Wending my way homeward after a particularly satisfying evening at my Gentleman’s club. I did not in any way consider myself inebriated, just in that happy state that only good wine and amiable company can impart.

I happened to look up, something had attracted my attention and there in a upper window stood a woman dressed in white, I tried not to stare, but I could not help myself, she had attracted my attention.

As I stared, she appeared to be mouthing something, ‘Help me, Help Me!’ I paused for a moment trying to fully comprehend the event that I had just witnessed. I looked up again but the widows were empty, the curtains were drawn, she was gone.

On a sudden Impulse, I rushed forwards and rapped loudly on the door with my cane. A short time elapsed and then the door was opened by a rather surly looking individual who did not appear to be at all happy to be awakened from his slumber.

‘What is the meaning of this, young man, have you nothing better to do than wake honest god fearing people from their slumber.’ he said somewhat angrily.

And I, like a fool replied, ‘I have come to rescue the young lady that you have imprisoned in your attic room.’

He looked at me and started laughing, You, young man should take more water with your spirits, the only occupants of this house are my elderly wife and I, now on your way Sir, before I call a constable!’

So, there it was, once again I had made a fool of myself, but I was not totally convinced. Damn it all! I was entranced by the woman in the window, where do I go from here?

The following night , not wishing to make a fool of myself again. I arrived at the house at much the same time, but on this occasion stone cold sober.

Once again, I looked up and there she was, pleading with me, imploring me, ‘Help me, Help me! I longed to help her, truth to say I was attracted to her. But what to do? that was  the question. I strode away from the house feeling totally perplexed. I could hear the sounds of Christmas carols carried on the wind, but I felt no cause for celebration.

I made a note of the address and approached one of my acquaintances who worked as a reporter on one of the broadsheets. I gave him all the details and arranged to meet him at the club the following night.

On arrival, his opening words were, ‘You better get yourself a stiff drink, old boy, I have a feeling that you might need it!’ I summoned the waiter, ordered two double brandies, sunk one and gave the other to my friend.

I checked the address that you gave me for incidents concerning young women and discovered that twenty years ago, a young woman named Chastity de Vere married a gambler and libertine named Percy Lambert.

She discovered he was cheating on her, she pleaded with him to change his ways, he laughed at her and told her that she was a simpering fool and her only attraction was her fortune, which he was rapidly squandering on cards and whores.

In shock, she turned and ran, smashing straight through the attic window to land with broken body on the pavement below.

‘An interesting tale.’ I said, ‘But what as that to do with my predicament? ‘The woman you find yourself attracted to is the ghost of Chastity de Vere!’

From that day on, I have cut back on my alcohol intake, indeed at one low point in my life I even considered joining the Temperance Society and now whenever Christmas comes around I think of Chastity de Vere and tremble visibly. God rest ye Merry Gentlemen, I was just a little merry, consider my fate!

(C) Damian  Grange 2019

 

Air Aces of World War One

 

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Captain Albert Ball V.C. – British Ace 1896 /1917 Pt.8

  Inaction annoyed Ball and he began pestering for a return to active duty. He finally managed to obtain a posting as a flight commander to No.56 Squadron RFC, considered to be as close to an elite unit as any established by the RFC. Ball was still first among Britain’s aces, and some documents hint that his attachment to No.56 Squadron was planned to be temporary. according to one account he had been slated to serve with the unit for only a month to mentor novice pilots. The latest fighter from the Royal Aircraft Factory, the S.E.5, had been selected to equip the new squadron. This choice was viewed with some trepidation by RFC Higher Command, and Ball himself was far from happy with the S.E.5. After some intense lobbying he was allowed to keep his Nieuport 17 No. B1522 when the unit went to France; the Nieuport was for his solo missions, and he would fly an S.E.5 on patrols with the rest of the squadron. This arrangement had the personal approval of General Hugh Trenchard, who went on to become the first Chief of the Air Staff of the Royal Air Force. No.56 Squadron moved to the Western Front on the 7th of April 1917. On arrival Ball wrote to his parents, “Cheerio, am just about to start the great game again”.

S.E.5 No. A 4850, fresh from its packing crate, was extensively modified for Ball: in particular he had the synchronised Vickers gun removed and replaced with a second Lewis gun angled to fire through the floor of the cockpit. He also had a slightly larger fuel tank fitted. on the 9th of April 1917 A 4850 was refitted and the downward firing Lewis gun was removed and replaced by a standard Vickers gun mounting. On the 23rd of April 1917, although under strict orders to stay over British lines, but still managed to engage the Germans five times in his Nieuport. In his first combat of the day, using his preferred belly shot, he sent an Albatros into a spin and followed it down, continuing to fire at it till it struck the ground. It was No.56 Squadron’s first victory. Regaining an altitude of 5,000Ft, he tried to dive underneath an Albatros two-seater and pop up under its belly as usual, but he overshot and the German rear gunner put a burst of 15 bullets through the Nieuport’s wings and spars. Ball coaxed the Nieuport home for repairs, returning to battle in an S.E.5 in his third combat of the day, he fired five rounds before his machine gun jammed. After landing to clear the blockage, he took off once again, surprising five Albatros fighters and sending one down in flames. His fifth combat, shortly thereafter, appeared inconclusive as the plane managed to land safely. However its observer had been mortally wounded.

To Be Continued…………….

(C) Damian Grange 2019

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 191 )

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 191 )

  A week later, we, that is myself and all of my medical staff were aboard a Royal Navy ship being transported across the channel to France. On arrival there we were met by a fleet of lorries and other vehicles to transport us inland, closer to where the fighting was taking place.

I admit to a twinge of disappointment when we arrived at our designated site. All of the facilities were there, but housed in tents and a cluster of hastily erected huts. To my physician’s mind this was hardly the place to keep our wounded, let alone cure them.

It was early September, but the weather was beginning to change, I was afraid that whether in the tents or huts. The wounded would not survive the winter.

I contacted my superiors and insisted that if they indeed wanted me to save lives, then I needed far better facilities than those on offer. I am not decrying the efforts of the Engineers who built our base, but the fact remains that the facilities are woefully inadequate to fulfil my requirements.

Two days later we received our first batch of wounded. And as I had expected some of the wounds were most severe, and attempting to recover from surgery in a freezing tent was far from an ideal situation.

At least in the huts we could provide a degree of warmth and comfort, but even this was far from ideal. To my mind we would suffer heavy losses.

(C) Damian Grange 2019

Apologies

I would like to apologise to all my friends and followers on WordPress. I recently returned from holiday and after a few days at home suffered a minor heart attack. I will commence to publish on my normal days but in due course have to return to hospital for a major operation, please bear with me, I will return.

Regards Malkie

Air Aces of World War One

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Captain Albert Ball V.C. – British Ace 1896 /1917 Pt. 7

  Ball had been awarded the Distinguished Service Order ( D.S.O.) and bar simultaneously on the 26th of September 1916. The bar was for “conspicuous skill and gallantry” when he attacked four enemy aircraft in formation and then on another occasion twelve enemy machines. He was also awarded the Russian Order of Saint George the same month. Now that Ball had returned to England, he was lionised as a national hero with a reputation as a fearless pilot and an expert marksman. A crowd of journalists awaited him on his family’s doorstep. I an interview he mentioned being shot down six times in combat. On the 18th of November 1916, he was invested with his Military Cross and both D.S.O’s by King George V at Buckingham Palace. A second bar to the D.S.O. for taking on three enemy aircraft and downing one of them, making him the first three time recipient of the award. Ball was promoted to the substantive rank of lieutenant on the 8th of December 1916.

Instead of returning to combat after his leave, Ball was posted to instructional duties with No. 34 ( Reserve ) Squadron RFC, based at Orford Ness, Suffolk. About this time he was debriefed by Flying instructor Philip Gribble who had been charged with discovering the tactics used by the ace fighter pilots, Gribble came to the conclusion that Ball operated on “paramount courage and a bit of luck”. Ball asked Gribble to let him try a Bristol Scout, which he landed badly, seriously damaging the undercarriage, Ball requested another machine to try again, unfortunately with the same result. Ball consoled himself by eating “seven pounds of chocolate”. It was while serving on the Home Front that he was able to lobby for the building and testing of the Austin – Ball A.F.B.1 fighter aircraft. He had hoped to return to France with one, but the prototype was not completed until his death in action. in November he was invited to test fly the new Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5, single-seat scout, apparently the first serving pilot to do so. He was unimpressed, finding the heavier, more stable fighter less responsive to the controls than the Nieuports he had been flying. His negative assessment of other aspects of the aircrafts performance, on the other hand, contrasted markedly with the reactions of fellow pilots who tested the prototype around this time. Ball was to maintain his opinion that the S.E.5 was a dud, at least until he had scored several victories on the type after his return to France. On the 19th of February 1917, Ball became an Honorary Freeman of Nottingham, his home City. It was around this time that he met James Mc Cudden, also on leave, who later reported his impressions in most favourable terms. In London, Ball also encountered Canadian Billy Bishop, who had not as yet seen combat. Ball took an immediate liking to Bishop and may have helped him to secure a posting to No. 60 Squadron.

To Be Continued…………….

Damian Grange 2019

Karlstadt – The Return Excerpt 11

Karlstadt – The Return Excerpt 11

  When Jock caught up with me he said, ‘Well wasn’t that fun, just like old times but next time let me be the bait in the trap, we can’t afford to lose you.’ ‘That’s awfully considerate of you Jock,’ I said gratefully. ‘Not at all’ he grinned, ‘After it is you that’s paying for our little soiree.’ ‘I suppose you have a valid point there, but thanks all the same.’

The day following the incident with the brigands was totally uneventful, so much so that we longed for something to happen. That little spell of action had enlivened us.

That night while we were waiting for the food to cook over our open fire, I perused the maps that my Father had given me. According to my reckoning we were about three days steady travelling away from Karlstadt.

I could not help but wonder what would greet us, would we be greeted with suspicion and open hostility, or would we be given the cordial welcome that all visitors expect. The following day dawned, a beautiful sunny day, a day full of promise.

Despite our earlier misgivings, Jock and I were both enjoying the Carpathians, both for the scenery and the solitude. We could travel for days without seeing a single soul. For us it took a little getting used too.

(C) Damian Grange 2019

To all my friends and followers please note this will be my last post until Friday the 5th of October as I am taking a short break…. Thank you.

The Diamond King – Excerpt 16

The Diamond King – Excerpt 16

  I took it upon myself to stand the first watch, but I was almost exhausted, so at the last moment, Henrik changed places with me, and did me the kindness of standing the first watch whilst I caught up on my sleep.

I dozed off almost immediately, and when I awoke cursed myself for not relieving Henrik sooner. As it happened it did not matter, when I arrived to relieve my friend he was already dead, with a black mamba slithering away from him.

I killed the snake with my hunting knife. A snake of this kind would only kill if surprised, my immediate thought was Nathan. He thought that I was standing guard, he would hurl a snake at me rather than tackle me face to face.

I owed Henrik a life, and I knew whose it would be and before too long, the odds were now in their favour. I wanted to rush headlong in to camp and call Nathan out, but although Maartens was spineless he might not hesitate to shoot me in the back especially where a fortune in diamonds was concerned he had not the sense to realise that with me out of the way he too was expendable, why settle for 50 / 50 when you can have it all.

I went in to the camp and woke them both and explained what had happened, they both expressed regret, but they were both poor actors I dug a hole and buried Henrik and said a few words over him, it was the least I could do for my old comrade in arms. But I silently vowed that his death would be avenged.

(C) Damian Grange 2019

 

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 190 )

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 190 )

  The next question was fielded by the Matron, ‘You made a statement that we will be treating any and all casualties, do’s this also include the enemy, should they end up at our door?’ As I stated, ‘We will treat all wounded of whatever race, colour or religion, friend or enemy we are there to save lives, not play politics.’

‘Have we received direct orders regarding the treatment of enemy wounded?’ asked one of my Doctors. ‘We are bound by our Hippocratic oaths to treat all sick and wounded and I would imagine that the enemy’s medical staff would do the same, do’s that in some part answer your question?’

‘As I keep trying to stress to you, until we do actually arrive in the battle zone I have no inclination of what we might actually find there, all that I can do is to try to prepare you for the worst possible scenario and pray that this not what we find.’ I stated honestly.

‘What makes you think that the conditions will be so hellish?’ queried one of the Nursing Sisters. ‘Since the cessation of the last hostilities, all the Major Powers have been expanding their arsenals, with bigger more powerful weapons, weapons that in the past we have only dreamed of, and these include flying machines that may attack us from out of the sky, we have no comprehension of what our troops may be facing or the wounds that they may receive. This coming war may be Armageddon!’

(C) Damian Grange 2019