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The Fox and the Hound

by scriever 

Posted: 27 October 2016
Word Count: 1954
Summary: A two-person pov story set in London during WW2. The italicised parts are from the pov of Londoner Gloria, the regular type the pov of an unnamed US pilot on leave from his unit.

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     The Fox and The Hound
Another furlough in the fleshpots of London. The last few ops had been tough, We were hitting Berlin and the Rhine heartlands every night, and the German resistance was fierce. We were all more than happy to head off to the big city to let off some steam. Unlike the rest of the guys, however, I went alone. I checked in at a small, out of the way hotel in one of the little towns that make up London. I knew that the social life in a burg like this would centre around the High Street, so I collected my accessories – cigarettes, wallet, false ID, small leather cosh, my special knives, a ball of tough twine - and took off, into the night.

The first pub, The Royal Oak, was an old man’s place. Some of the old men looked as if they’d already passed away. The Grapes was a bit better, and I stayed for a drink at the bar, people watching. A younger crowd, mostly couples; nothing for me there. Next, the Fox and Hounds; I could sense a difference when I walked through the door. I stood just inside the door for a heartbeat or two, letting the happy crowd get an eyeful, then made my way, smiling, an excuse me here, a may I there, through the throng. A space opened up at the bar and I was there, caught the barman’s eye, asked for a scotch, a decent single malt. Glass in hand, I turned, leaned my back against the bar and surveyed the room.

I saw him as soon as he came in. Hard to miss him; he posed by the door for about five minutes, making sure he was noticed. Well turned out, good looking in an obvious sort of a way. A Yank, a pilot if I got the insignia right. Just the type I liked. I left my table in the corner and headed over. He was holding what looked like a whisky. I squeezed in beside him, without looking at him, and ordered the same.

A voice to my left, asking the barman for a whisky and lemonade, made me turn, and I was rewarded by a vision – dark hair a la Betty Grable framing a pretty face, and a knockout figure. “Let me get that” I said, with a winning smile. Gorgeous turned to me. Smoky grey-green eyes, and a warm smile, she was a real knockout.

I made sure he got an eyeful, then turned on the charm, both headlights, full beam. He reacted. Got you. “Thanks so much, that’s very kind of you. But I never let anyone buy me a drink until I’ve been properly introduced.” I held out a hand. “Gloria, very pleased to meet you. You’re an American, aren’t you?” He admitted he was, told me his name was Joe. We shook hands, and as simple as that, we were an item.

I suggested taking our drinks to a table, and we made our way to a secluded corner of the pub. Gloria was bright, vivacious and fun. God, how I hated her. I knew her type so well; she deserved everything she was shortly going to get. I was my usual charming self as we told each other our life stories – although mine, naturally, was not so much heavily edited as a work of fiction.

We shared stories and cigarettes until closing time. He was boyishly eager when I suggested a nightcap, back at my place.

Gloria had a small terraced house in a dull street, where nobody else appeared to have much of a social life. All tucked up in their beds by 9 o’clock, like good little citizens. Inside the door, we shucked our coats and headed for the living room. Gloria lit the fire and drew the curtains, then headed upstairs to ‘change into something more comfortable’. While she was away I mixed us a couple of drinks, a whisky with a lot of water for yours truly, and a special cocktail for Gloria; a bit of everything in it, until it was strong enough to fell an ox.
On with the silk negligee, a little something tucked somewhere discreet. Party time. I checked my look in the mirror at the top of the stairs. I looked good. Hell, I looked spectacular.

Gloria sashayed in wearing a diaphanous silk number that showed a bit of leg and a lot of promise. If I’d been in the market for what she was offering I would have dropped to my knees and howled to the moon right there and then. After a sip of her cocktail she put it down on a side table, but caught the edge, and next thing there was a bright green puddle spreading across the stained carpet. Gloria brought in a towel and I helped her clean it up, then disposed of the towel in the kitchen.

The drink he’d mixed was lethal, and a bilious green colour. God knows what he’d put in it; no way was I drinking that. I managed to tip it on the floor and got Joey boy out of the room for long enough to add a little something to his drink. Two can play at that game, old son.

When I got back she was mixing herself a new drink. It was looking like a longer night than I’d anticipated, and I was beginning to develop a real dislike for the gorgeous Gloria. Her dogged cheerfulness was grating, and my hands itched to get round that smooth neck.

Was he getting a bit rattled? He looked a bit discomfited that his grand plan was beginning to unravel. I smiled as I settled back on to the couch beside him, lit two cigarettes and passed him one. I watched him carefully as we chatted. A thin sheen of sweat gleamed on his forehead, and he loosened his tie. “Why don’t you take off that heavy old jacket?” I purred. He looked genuinely panicked.

“I’m fine, really” I said, although I wasn't; the room had gotten unbearably warm and I was starting to sweat. I turned the charm up a notch. “Unless you want to continue our conversation…upstairs?” She finished her drink, smiled and stood up, without swaying even a little bit, I was disappointed to note . “What a good idea. Why don’t you knock that back and we’ll do just that.” I downed the contents of my glass and stood up. Or at least I tried to; what actually happened was that I half straightened then fell forwards into a small coffee table. My head hit something hard and black nothingness overwhelmed me.

He went down like a sack of spuds. His head caught the ashtray and he was out cold. I didn’t even need to follow through with the rolling pin behind the cushion. I got him out of his jacket. Well, blow me if he hadn’t come prepared, the little boy scout – there was a little, leather covered cosh, a couple of posh little knives with ivory handles, and a ball of strong twine. I spread the haul out on the table, and considered. Clearly, Joey was a bit more than he seemed. I tried the little cosh out for size. It had a nice heft to it. He was starting to stir, so I gave him a little tap on the side of his head and he went limp. I changed out of the silk into something more suitable, dragged sleepy-head to the cellar door, opened it, and heaved him through the opening. He hit every step on the way down, and landed a bit awkwardly. I hurried down after him and checked his pulse. Still with us. Good. I wanted him to realise what was happening. I had one of his nice knives and his twine with me; it was short work to get him trussed up good and tight. I rammed the towel we’d used to clean up his cocktail into his mouth. That should hold him for a while. I was filthy, and not a little sweaty. Time for a nice long bath.

I came to in some pain, and a lot of discomfort. A cloth that tasted as if it had been soaked in raw spirit was jammed in my mouth. And it was dark. The darkness was so complete I thought I’d gone blind. I tried to move, and found my wrists were tied together, and to my ankles. I ached all over, and had a pounding headache. I lay in the darkness, stunned mentally as well as physically. Gloria had sucker-punched me. Played me at my own game. The thought that some dame had outsmarted me was not something I wanted to dwell on.
So I stopped feeling sorry for myself and tried to do something about it. I started twisting and turning, which brought a pain in my arms, legs, and wrists so severe I nearly passed out. After a good half hour I had moved maybe two feet. My face was now pressed against something softer than the ground, but something that smelled pretty bad.

Then a slit of light appeared near high up above my head. I was disorientated until I realised that I was lying in a basement. I heard the click of a lightswitch and the room was flooded with a harsh yellow light. I saw that the thing my face was pressed against was a body, and realised that whoever it was had been dead for some time. I gagged, and nearly died there and then because of the cloth in my mouth. I twisted away, and squinted towards the light.

He was awake, and had been squirming about. His face was pressed up against Mr Fisher, Joe’s immediate predecessor, which can’t have been too pleasant for him. For Joe that is. Mr Fisher didn’t mind. He’d been dead for two months.

Wakey wakey, rise and shine. No, belay that last command. Don’t get up. How nice of you to provide your own bindings. Nice cosh as well, and the little knives will come in handy too, next time I need to gut some fish. Let me tell you how this is going to play out, Joe, or whatever your real name is. I’ve done to you what you were planning to do to me. It’s particularly rewarding to get one over on someone as cocky and, well, obnoxious as you. So get used to the surroundings, cos here you will stay, for the rest of your natural life. I’m going to sock you now, quite hard, with your own little toy, make sure your bindings are as tight as they possibly can be, and leave you to your own devices. When you come to you’ll have plenty of time to think about me. Pleasant dreams, matey.”

He twisted, and looked up at me, his eyes like saucers; he was terrified. I favoured him with my best smile, raised my right arm high and brought his leather cosh down with as much force as I could muster. There was a crunching noise, and he was still. There was a sizeable dent in the side of Joe’s head, and dark, thick blood was pooling on the floor. Woops - maybe I had hit him a little hard. The cosh would take some getting used to. Practice, that's what I need, practice, I told myself as I turned out the light and closed the door on my men. Plenty of time for that. I whistled a happy tune as I climbed the wooden hill to bedfordshire. Tomorrow was another day.

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Comments by other Members

Chestersmummy at 21:27 on 27 October 2016  Report this post
Hi Scriever

I enjoyed this.  It was very well written although perhaps Joe could have sounded more American and perhaps Gloria could have had a Cockney accent which would have also help to underline the sense of 'place'.

I actually felt that you signalled both parties' murderous intentions a little too soon.  I think this story is worthy of longer treatment in which you could maybe explore both Joe's and Gloria's mutual but separate antipathies towards brassy come-hither girls on Joe's part and ultra-macho self confident males on Gloria's.   There could be incidents in the past that twisted their outlooks.   This could even be the basis for a novel because I definitely want to know more about these two characters.

Hope this helps.



scriever at 12:12 on 28 October 2016  Report this post
Thanks for the kind comments. I've never thought of extending it, as I have with some stories. I can see that filling it out that way would work - I feel a new project coming on!


lionizzzed at 15:27 on 28 October 2016  Report this post
HI Scriever

​Haha I enjoyed this, the premise is very orginal, as I just didn't see the meeting of two psychopathic minds in wartime London as a thing that might happen. However, now I do. I think it's really cool, if you are going to extend it then I think chestersmummy is right, Joe needs to be more American. Gloria is great as she is. I didn't really expect her to come out on top, and if I'm honest I didn't really see it coming. I kind of wondered why he had a cosh but like I say the setting and time sent me off the scent. 

​I think there is potential for more dialogue which could be quite funny, and perhaps you should think of a more dynamic inciting incident, when they meet at the bar it seems a little cold and though I get this is kind of the point, it seems a bit of a modern way to hook up, or even it seems maybe just a bit too easy on both sides. Maybe he could ask her something, she could scope him out a bit more, say something funny, or he could make a charming comment and you could set it up like a classic wartime romance, then bring the twist in later. Lose the kosh until they get inside maybe? ​I think the thing is it seems just a bit coincidental they both meet in that bar at that time and both are complete psychos

​I dunno, I'm no expert, but I love the original thinking and subversion of the typical wartime romance situation.



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