Saturday, 26 August 2017

A Ticket to Tewkesbury - Chapter One

A Ticket to Tewkesbury | Fiction: Espionage / Crime Detective Mystery
by Neal James

Julie Martin’s aunt Molly was seventy-four when she died in April 1992 and it had fallen to her to take care of the old woman’s affairs at the end. She’d hated doing it when her own parents passed away some years before, and the fact that Molly had been her own mother’s identical twin sister didn’t help matters at all. It had been like living through the whole episode once more and although her husband Doug was as supportive as he could be, he had no real idea of the emotional turmoil that she had gone through during the weeks following the funeral. As sole executor of her aunt’s will it had been Julie’s responsibility to ensure that all bequests and instructions were carried out, but the most difficult side to it all had been sorting through Molly’s possessions. There had been all of the usual collections of memorabilia which she had accumulated, in addition to papers concerning the ownership of her house and all her savings, but the more personal items were confined to the recesses of her wardrobe, and that was where Julie found the letter.
Molly didn’t have a large collection of clothing, the deprivation suffered by many British people during the war had seen to that. The culture of ‘Make Do and Mend’ had applied across the entire strata of society in some shape or form. Nevertheless each item was searched through before being parcelled up for a variety of charitable causes which her aunt had favoured during her lifetime. Nearing the end of her clothing ‘safari’, and at the conclusion of a particularly tiring day, Julie had almost missed it in her rush to get the last of the stuff away from the house. Out of the back compartment of an old handbag with a broken clasp, a letter emerged. The envelope was cream, but must have originally been white and now tarnished with age. The writing on it was in fountain pen, something quite unusual nowadays, and beautifully written in a flowing style. What made it all the more intriguing was the fact that the stamp bore the head of King George VI. Julie was no philatelist, but realised that this would make the likely date of its writing between the years 1939 and 1953. Where on earth could Molly have come across it?
She sat down on the bed and stared at the envelope in her hands. It was still sealed and bore no post mark – a fact which meant that it had therefore never arrived at its destination. There was no return address on the other side and the writing was not that of her aunt, so it must have been an item of mail which had been mislaid in the street, possibly by the person sending it, and who was on their way to the post office. That’s it, they must have dropped it and Molly would have picked it up intending to post it on herself. Perhaps this intention was interrupted by some other event and she put it into her bag, intending to deal with it later. From that point in time it was probably forgotten and consigned to the back of the wardrobe along with the hand bag. Molly had been born in 1918 and Julie reasoned that she would have been at least thirty-five at the time she picked up the letter. The nagging question persisted, should she open it?

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